Wisconsin's Department of Health Services is launching a registry that will help residents find out when and where they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pilot locations for the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry tool will begin testing software on Feb. 22, with a hard launch set for March 1.
The registry will be used by people who opt-in, and will not be a comprehensive resource for all vaccination options, DHS explained in a statement Thursday. That includes health care systems, pharmacies and county and city health departments, which may already have their own vaccine registration system.
DHS says its registry, which will be accessible on its website, will require people to answer several questions to find out which vaccination group they are eligible for. The registry will then offer times for you to schedule an appointment to receive your vaccine.
However, if you are not yet eligible or if there are no appointments available via the registry, you will be placed on a waiting list, according to the DHS.
In addition, the registry can send reminders to those already vaccinated with their first dose, so they can receive their second dose. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a total of two doses to be effective against the coronavirus.
For those without internet, DHS says a hotline will be created, so people can call in to sign up in the registry for a vaccination.
A small number of health departments, including Wauwatosa, Central Racine County, and Waukesha County, will be testing the software for the registry starting in the week of Feb. 22. On March 1, the software will be rolled out steadily to participating health departments across Wisconsin.
"For our team here at the health department, it is a lot of time and resources to manage all of the different systems. It’s a lot of data entry. It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make everything run smoothly for the public," said Laura Stevens, interim health officer at the Wauwatosa Health Department.
Stevens said the registry will streamline the process for both staff and the public.
During a Milwaukee County COVID-19 briefing, Greenfield's health officer, Darren Rausch, said they worked out their own system, but he thinks the registry will be a positive change.
"Many health departments across the state do not have the infrastructure for technology to do the registration and coordination that needs to happen," said Rausch. "I think this more technological solution statewide will level the playing field for not only health departments, but other community vaccinators that may be interested."
By April 1, DHS expects the registry to be available to all interested parties administering the vaccine in the state.
Despite glitches in other states, DHS officials said they are confident they will be able to address any issues quickly.
When the registry goes live, it will be available on the DHS' website here.