Georgia’s online vaccine data portal to be offline until next week

The Georgia Department of Public Health on Thursday temporarily took down its public COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, blaming ongoing system and data transfer issues that have delayed publication of the state’s daily numbers.

In a news release, DPH said it will continue to publish daily updates on its website. These updates will include cumulative vaccines administered, the number of vaccines allocated, and the percentage of allocated of vaccines administered.

But other detailed data will be limited, the agency said. The state’s dashboard was last updated on Tuesday.

DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said the system issues do not affect the state’s ability to report vaccine data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes national vaccine figures daily on its own portal.

The state’s vaccine dashboard is unrelated to the vaccination registration tool allowing Georgians to schedule appointments. The vaccine dashboard also is separate from the state’s daily dashboard of COVID-19 case, test and death data.

DPH said it is working to fix the issues and upgrade the website, which also shows county-level data for vaccine administration. The agency said the improvements are expected to include additional county-level data “to present a more complete picture of COVID vaccine administration in Georgia.”

In an email, Nydam said the problem relates to vaccine data transferring from one file to another that feeds the state’s dashboard.

“It is not transferring correctly, and the manual process takes nearly ten hours once we know there is a problem,” Nydam said.

Nydam said the state hopes the work to fix the data transfer issue and upgrade the dashboard will be completed by April 2. But if finished sooner, she said, “we will put it back up.”

“We won’t wait,” she said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state has had to bootstrap its data visualization and reporting apparatus, occasionally running into to trouble amid  a flood of information.

“This pandemic has caused everyone to want to see the data and see it in real time,” said Amber Schmidtke, a former CDC scientist and former Mercer University professor who tracks the state’s epidemic on her closely followed blog and newsletter. “What this highlights is DPH has needed more money for a long time.”

Schmidtke said she would like to see the updates include county-level demographic data on vaccine recipients as a way to track and address issues of vaccine equity.

On Thursday, Georgia officially expanded vaccine eligibility to include all Georgians age 16 and older.

According to the CDC, Georgia has administered more than 3.3 million shots as of Wednesday afternoon. The vaccination rate of 31,670 per 100,000 people ranks 49th out of 50 states nationally.

Gov. Brian Kemp has pushed back on Georgia’s ranking, saying the state has been shorted about 250,000 doses administered through a federal pharmacy program that incorrectly identified where shots were administered.

But Georgia still ranks at the bottom nationally for the percentage of the adult population who have received at least one shot by the patients’ state of residence, according to CDC data.