Taylor County commissioners approve funds for vaccine scheduling software

·3 min read

Taylor County commissioners Tuesday approved an agreement with the city of Abilene to extend use of vaccine scheduling software being used by the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District during the pandemic.

With a sticker price of $210,000, the health district was able to get a discount as an early adopter of $123,900, making the actual price $86,100, said Annette Lerma, director of the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District.

Commissioners voted to split the cost evenly with the city.

The software, Luminare's Innoculate, "has been something that we've been utilizing the past year to allow people to schedule themselves for COVID-19 vaccinations," Lerma said.

Elijah Anderson, the county's auditor, said in an email said the county will use America Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for its portion.

A 'lifesaver'

The software streamlines a number of processes and allows people to schedule shots at their own convenience, Lerma said, without having to rely on health department personnel to manage those details.

"It has really made a significant difference in the number of people we've had to staff," she said. "You'll remember early on in the pandemic, we had, at one point 25 people answering phone calls."

Those individuals also had to call out to people on waiting lists, which was a "very long and arduous process," Lerma said.

People wait in line for a COVID-19 vaccine at the Abilene Convention Center.
People wait in line for a COVID-19 vaccine at the Abilene Convention Center.

"So this has been a real lifesaver for us," she said, adding the software also allows patients to enter their own information and answer screening questions.

The software also helps with reporting numbers to the state's vaccination database, Lerma said, and significantly reduces the possibility of human error.

The initial agreement was for a one-year subscription, Lerma said, mostly funded by grant dollars, with the remainder taken from the city of Abilene's minor improvement fund.

Lerma admitted she'd hoped a one-year agreement would be sufficient to get the county through the pandemic.

That obviously isn't the case, she said. The Delta variant and now the Omicron variant of the virus have continued to spread and vaccination has remained a key strategy in combatting the spread and severity of COVID-19.

In related business, commissioners also extended the county's COVID-19 disaster declaration and discussed, though did not take action on, a plan for the wider use of ARPA funds.

Annette Lerma
Annette Lerma

Mercy granted

Commissioners also honored canine officer Mercy with an official retirement ceremony Tuesday.

Mercy rendered five years of service to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, beginning in March 2016, under direction of Deputy Brandon Buchanan and later Deputy Kevin Waddle.

The employee is retiring to serve as a permanent part of Waddle's family.

Mercy has numerous certifications, including training to detect narcotics, tracking and article searches.

K-9 Mercy and her handler, Deputy Kevin Waddle, await accolades from Taylor County Commissioners. Mercy is retiring after five years of service.
K-9 Mercy and her handler, Deputy Kevin Waddle, await accolades from Taylor County Commissioners. Mercy is retiring after five years of service.

Her career highlights include detecting 97.77 grams of cocaine, 3,281.45 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of heroin, 3,768 grams of methamphetaimine and more than $557,741 dollars in illegal funds and seizures.

Mercy also has been used to assist a variety of other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

Brian Bethel covers city and county government and general news for the Abilene Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Taylor County commissioners approve vaccine scheduling software funds

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting