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Centralized vaccine sign-up portal nears completion; DeWine says state is 'aggressively' working to get providers to sign up

Virus Outbreak Vaccine Ohio
Posted at 3:34 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 15:34:57-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the first phase of launching a statewide vaccination scheduling portal known as VMS is now completed. For the second phase of the launch, which is currently ongoing, the state is “aggressively” working to get a large number of providers signed up before making it public, but admits technology issues have impeded the launch of the site.

“Once we most participating providers signed up, our third phase will be to make the site live to those seeking to be vaccinated,” DeWine said.

DeWine said one of the challenges getting all the providers on the site is that many have created their own waiting lists for people who are 80 years or 70 years old and the state doesn’t want to abort any lists for fear that anyone can jump in line in front of those already on the list.

Director of the Department of Health Stephanie McCloud isn't sure how long it will take to get the portal up and running but said the state working to get vaccine providers to sign up as soon as possible.

“We don’t know exactly how long that is going to take but obviously moving as quickly as we can so that we have something, open for Ohioans as quickly as possible," McCloud said. "The other long-term benefit of this particular system of course is going to be as we move toward mass vaccination sites. We will be using this, along with other means of communication but using this to achieve some of those larger goals that we have once more vaccines available."

Over the next two to three weeks, DeWine said the state will work with local providers, including health departments, pharmacies and hospitals, to transition to a new system.

DeWine said his team reviewed the federal government's vaccine scheduling system and determined after looking at 40 other states, it would not work for Ohio.

"Ohio chose to build its own system because the federal government's system would not work for Ohio. The first phase for launching the system is complete. The site has been developed and is functional and ready from a technical standpoint," he said.

The site will serve as a one-stop-shop for vaccination scheduling and information about eligibility as well as to find providers to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

"Our goal is for Ohioans to have a positive customer experience when we launch to make appointments. Those interested in getting a vaccination will be able to put their zip code in and pull up appointments within 20 miles," DeWine said.

DeWine recognized not everyone has access to the internet, so the state is working with its partners, including the Area Agencies on Aging, to help Ohioans navigate appointment scheduling.

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