CASCADE COUNTY, Mont. - The Cascade County Health Department has changed their vaccination sign up plans. Eligible people can no longer sign up for a wait list.
Now the county is relying on an online portal to schedule those appointments.
Demand is still high, but according to Public Health Officer Trisha Gardner, it wasn't an easy decision because team ran into too many issues with people signing up. She explained things got to a point where her staff couldn't investigate each individual case.
Although they received hundreds of phone messages and filled many open slots quickly, the method let too many people sign up twice: shutting hundreds of others out and causing significant tracking problems. Relatives were signing up loved ones and double checking everything took too long, so they were forced to call things off.
"Their names were on there numerous times, when we went to de-duplicate that it didn't always work because say their names were 'John Allen Smith,' one might be under 'John Smith,' one might be under 'Allen Smith,' one might be under 'John Allen Smith,' so they could still show up multiple times,” Gardner said.
Use of full names also became an issue, “We also had them coming in numerous different ways so they had to be compiled and then de-duplicated, everything of that nature and the de-duplication process doesn't work unless they're exact matches,” Gardner said.
Another major problem included people getting the shot somewhere else but not calling in to let the health department know they should be removed from the waitlist.
Gardner says if you were able to sign up and are still on that list you should expect a call at some point over the next few weeks to schedule a shot appointment.