Coronavirus pandemic

BELTON — Bell County’s new software for vaccination bookings went live Monday, with only a few minor problems reported.

The goal of the new software is to reduce the time officials spend on the manual data entry of forms needed to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The county purchased the new software, made by Luminare, last month on Feb. 24 with Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursable money.

The first appointments being made through the new system were for second doses conducted at the Bell County Expo Center.

County spokesman James Stafford said county workers previously needed to input the paperwork information from those getting vaccinated manually.

 “We currently have 15 people dedicated to data entry right now, and this solution should handle most of that work automatically,” Stafford said.

Adam Ward, technology services director for the county, said the new system will allow for more communications between the county and those who have signed up for appointments.

Ward said the county will now be able to message people directly and send them an updated appointment if there is a need for a change in schedule.

“In the past, when weather events forced us to postpone appointments, we were limited in how we could communicate that to the people who were scheduled during the effected times,” Ward said. “We quickly learned that emailing people and posting updates to our website and social media was not enough to reach everyone.”

Ward said other hubs using the same software have used it to allow them to vaccinate thousands in a single day.

While the county might not need to vaccinate that many people, Ward said, the new software at least provides that ability.

Stafford said the main problem those making appointments saw was some pages showing the vaccine being given out as Moderna’s instead of the correct one, which is Pfizer’s. He said this problem was due to a mistake in not changing the labeling of which vaccine was being given on the page.

The county had been working to assure those getting the vaccines that they were getting the correct ones that corresponded to their first doses.

Austin resident Paul Hurdlow, 62, said he got his first dose in Bell County and was initially confused with the mixed-up vaccines on the website.

Despite this, Hurdlow said the new process was quick and easy to work with and allowed him to easily schedule his second shot.

“I did read it really does matter what vaccine you got, and I don’t want to drive all the way up and have them try and put Moderna in me,” Hurdlow said. “This I am sure will really speed things up.”