Background: During flu season hundreds of people line up to get their flu vaccine and wait up to 2 hours. During H1N1, this turned into thousands of people standing in line and wait time increased to over 4 hours. Long lines require more resources including police, personnel for crowd control, bathrooms, larger venues, etc. Long lines also lead to customer complaints, confusion about available doses, and a potential for running out of vaccine. It became clear that something had to be done to try to address these issues. Development and implementation of an on-line, web-based appointment system seemed the best option. The technology was there, it just needed to be tweaked to fit our needs.
Setting: All DHHS sponsored immunization clinics.
Population: All Montgomery County residents.
Project Description: The Montgomery County Immunization Program, in collaboration with the Department of Technology Services, developed an on-line, web-based appointment system that can be tailored to the type(s) of vaccine, the number of doses, and the time frame to administer the vaccines. In addition, multiple sites and multiple times can be scheduled simultaneously to offer residents a choice that best suits their needs. For residents without internet access, they can call 311 (county information hotline) and an operator will assist them in making an appointment.
Results/Lessons Learned: Use of this system began with H1N1 clinics in local libraries in the January, 2010. Post-clinic surveys showed nearly 100% satisfaction with how the clinics were run, a vast improvement from previous walk-in clinics. The system is now being used for seasonal flu clinics (including 2 clinics with 1300 appointments each). Beginning January 1, 2011, the appointment system will be used for all immunization clinics in Montgomery County, including childhood vaccines and adult/travel vaccines.