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State acknowledges difficulties with ‘clunky’ vaccine database, commits to fixing it

(Photo by Ricardo Ceppi / Getty Images)

With more and more people getting the COVID-19 vaccine, some people are having trouble finding themselves in the online database used by Washington state, MyIR.

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State health officials have pointed to MyIR as a way to show proof of vaccination, similar to the CDC cards you receive at the time you get your shot. The site matches a person’s state immunization data with the profile they set up.

But after a spate of people calling in and posting online that they have had a difficult time with the matching process, the state Department of Health acknowledged at its Wednesday briefing that the system is not a perfect one.

“Like many things in the pandemic, this was scaled very quickly,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of the state’s COVID-19 response, adding, “We want to make this system better and all of our systems better as we go forward, so we’ll keep working through it.”

State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah is hopeful that the Washington State Department of Health will see increased funding for technology like this kind of vaccine records system in the coming years.

“This is really about data systems and database systems and investments in technology from a long-term standpoint … in the long term, that is the direction we want to go,” he said.

He noted that most people haven’t had issues, but sympathized with the frustrations of those who have. People unable to locate records may find it is because their name, phone number, or another piece of personal data changed from the time they received their first vaccine (of any kind) in Washington. In other cases, people’s phone numbers or emails may not have been entered by the provider, especially at mass vaccination clinics where there were many people to get through.

“It’s a little bit more clunky, and it’s not as easily navigable, and so that has meant that that has been challenging for some people,” Shah said.

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People have been calling the DOH in droves worried that if they are not visible in MyIR, they are not in the Washington State Immunization Information System for the vaccine lottery. However, there is no need to fret; the DOH reminds people that the state’s records system is separate from MyIR. That means that as long as your received your vaccine in Washington, you’re in the system and have a shot at that $250,000 prize or Mariners suite — even if you can’t match yourself on the website.

If you do run into troubles with MyIR, you should call the state’s vaccine hotline at 833-VAX-HELP to get help from a trained specialist. The state warns that it is experiencing high call volumes due to people wanting to make sure they’re in the lottery.

In the meantime, for vaccine verification in public, you can use your CDC card, a photo of that card, or medical records from your doctor’s office that document you received the vaccine.

“We are going to continue to evolve,” Shah promised. “Ultimately, this is about serving Washingtonians — we would not want to have a system in place that does not serve our communities.”

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