Covid-19 vaccinations have been a source of concern, to say the least. This is true at all levels of the government, from the federal down to the city. We all know there is a shortage of vaccine. Now, we are also wondering if there is also a shortage of intellect and determination.
A while ago, I learned that the city of Warwick had about 400 doses of vaccine; and they were registering people over 75 years of age. I went to the site to register around 5 PM or so to find out that the registration started at 2 PM and ended by 2:30 PM after filling the quota.
While still on the city of Warwick Web site, I searched and eventually located a contact form. I used it to express my concerns. I indicated that the lack of transparency made me wonder who got the information and how. In that message, I suggested that the city should consider opening the registration to all and contact the citizens as their age bracket got their turn. No response!
A week or so later, I went to the site and wrote another message and added that they should not ignore their citizens’ questions. Here is the message:
I wrote via this medium about a week ago to voice some concerns and I have not yet received a reply. I would like to make a virtual appointment for a meeting with the mayor to voice my concerns in person. Please inform me via any of the means, phone, e-mail, mail. But, please do not ignore the requests coming from your citizens.
Cemal Ekin, PhD
This time, I got a confirmation reply and that my request was forwarded to the mayor’s scheduler. The next day, I received a call from the city, and I repeated my concerns of lack of transparency and planning. I also repeated my earlier suggestion that they open a site for every Warwick resident to register and wait until their turn came. The person politely listened and promised to refer my contact information to an entity like CodeRed or Red Alert so that they would contact me. I asked to have my wife’s information, and he kindly took that too. But no mention of the plan.
Since then, we have been waiting. This morning, Jim called to give me a heads up to go to the same site and register. Sure enough, there was a form for filling, and I quickly completed it. Only to find out that this was only a part of what I had suggested. It allowed only people over 75 to register. On top of that, there was no method of incorporating serious health issues that people may have, like my heart and asthma and Jan’s heart, pacemaker, and other medical complications.
This is not rocket science. The whole thing, including all the phases from registration to vaccinations, can be managed by a well-designed database. If the mandate is to prioritize by age, after the critical workers (and some executives!) then:
- Open a site for EVERYONE to register with their contact information
- Use a unified database system for the governing unit, city, or state
- Ask people to create login credentials, user ID, and password as they register
- Verify the age information if needed against the city records
- Sort the information by people’s age
- When vaccine becomes available, start at the top of the list, and send a message to the entire qualified group and augment that with public service announcements on TV, radio, paper
- Consider using a predetermined time to release the announcements for consistency
- Instruct people to login with their user ID and password to make an appointment
- As appointments are made, and the vaccine is administered, move names from the above list and put them in the vaccinated group
- When the quota is finished, close the appointments
- Repeat steps 1-10 as new doses become available
Why do we have to hear through the grapevine that registration is open without even knowing for what? When there is a severe snowstorm, our mobile phones start literally screaming with alert messages from the city. Are we facing a less important situation now that the same system cannot be or is not used?
If necessary, use your citizens to form an advisory board to assist. They may have many good ideas. Above all, maintain a healthy level of transparency.