State using 25-year-old system to handle COVID-19 vaccine tracking, investigation finds

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia is relying on a decades-old computer system, to handle tracking of the COVID-19 vaccine. And it’s finding it not up to the task.

State officials say data glitches and lags are part of the reason the CDC ranks the state at the bottom for distributing the vaccine.

That critical data lag is due in large part to the 25-year-old computer system the state is using to track vaccine distribution called GRITS.

“This system was developed probably a couple decades ago and it was never really designed for a pandemic,” said Georgia’s Special Advisor on Vaccine Planning Dr. Chris Rustin.

The CDC ranks Georgia down at the bottom, 49th out of the 50 states in administering vaccine.

But the state website shows 100,000 more doses given than the CDC is reporting.

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Rustin says they are now working on updating GRITS, and training providers who have never needed to use it on how it works.

“One thing that we’ve done is we’ve stood up an IT team that is solely focused on identifying any concerns or issues with the system,” Rustin said.

GRITS is labor intensive. But getting accurate data fast is critical because the federal government announced this week it will start allocating vaccine based on how effectively states distribute it.

“We can’t automate everything, but we are trying to automate processes that make it more efficient, more quick with data,” Rustin said.

Georgia has two weeks to resolve the data lag between providers and with the CDC before the new federal vaccine distribution plan goes into effect.

The state says every day they are doing trainings with providers to get them up to speed on GRITS.