A group of volunteer Marquette students, faculty and alumni have helped to create an online system that will help Wisconsin residents register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. MassVaxx is a free software system that works with public health institutions to provide an easy way to help patients throughout the vaccination process. In Wisconsin the vaccine is currently only available to a portion of the population, such as healthcare workers and individuals over the age of 65.
“Our software will provide patient registration, point of vaccine dispensing, adverse reaction tracking, and integration to an immunization registry, including the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR),” Sarah Hayden, a sophomore in the College of Engineering and business development representative for MassVaxx, said in an email.
To use MassVaxx, patients will go to the website and start by submitting basic personal and demographic information. From there patients will receive a QR code that can help healthcare professionals quickly look up an individual’s registration information.
“With that QR code, you will take it to an actual point of vaccine dispensing. By just showing that QR code, there’s one less contact point,” Gabbie Rohde, junior in the College of Engineering and software engineer for MassVaxx, said.
In addition to initial registration, MassVaxx also follows patients throughout the entire vaccination process. The software collects and stores information such as which company manufactured the administered vaccine, what arm it was injected in and if the patient had any adverse reactions.
Past the initial points of registry and vaccination, the system can help organize and manage large amounts of data that pertain to the vaccine.
“This software tool can automatically transfer the data to the state’s immunization registry and then from there it’s ported over to the CDC, and that’s a step if you’re doing it manually. If you’re doing it on paper, you have to either scan each paper or manually enter the data into the registry,” Dana Cook, professor of practice in engineering and front end engineer for MassVaxx, said.
The idea to create a system like MassVaxx started back in early 2020. . At the time there wasn’t a good system to keep track of vaccinating mass amounts of people. Cook says there was nothing more than an “excel file and some paper.”
“As we’ve met with different public health departments, it’s very clear that they are under resourced and for something like this. (A system) that’s going to be used for public health emergencies only, hopefully very infrequently, they can’t justify paying a lot of money for something to primarily sit on the shelf,” Cook said.
Once they identified the need, Cook, Marquette faculty and students got to work designing a software system to help manage a public health crisis, such as COVID-19. All members of the MassVaxx team are volunteers. They all work for free and the system is available for use at no charge.
“It’s worth it just to get back to normal help out your family. Help out your friends, help out people you don’t even know either. It really just comes down to helping out to fight against COVID-19,” Rohde said.
MassVaxx has also provided an opportunity for Marquette students to be involved in a professional setting. Many students lost internships due to COVID-19. The system has helped students professionally by being a part of an idea from the ground up. Yet, Hayden said the whole mission behind MassVaxx is to help fight COVID-19.
“We simply want to ‘Be the Difference,'” Hayden said. “We have been affected directly by COVID and want to help solve COVID. We are trying to help the best way we know how – by producing great software to get more people vaccinated quickly.”
This story was written by Megan Woolard. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.