MILWAUKEE - Whether it’s flying, taking in a live show or keeping your job, it can all depend on whether you have a COVID-19 vaccination card. Two people wrote to Contact 6 saying they were vaccinated against COVID-19 but unable to prove it.
Jeffrey Willman got his COVID-19 shot on August 15th at the Wisconsin State Fair.
"There’s so many things you need that card for nowadays," said Willman. "The [vaccine administrators] were all very professional, very clean."
Later on that day, Willman studied his vaccination card.
"I looked at it and my name was spelled incorrectly," said Willman. "It was spelled 'William.'"
It should have been no problem getting Willman a new card as long as his vaccination was recorded in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR), but it wasn’t. Not having an accurate card could cost Willman his job.
"I can’t travel internationally for my company without that card," said Willman.
WIR is a confidential database that records all immunizations. Schools use WIR to enroll students. Health care providers rely on it to advise patients. COVID-19 vaccinations are automatically uploaded to WIR by the same application used by providers to book appointments and register patients.
Tim Gardner’s COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t recorded in WIR either. Gardner got his shot on August 28th at an Urban League event while performing as a DJ.
"I was one of the first to volunteer and say "hey, let me take this shot," said Gardner. "No one knows that I took this COVID shot to this day."
The same day he got the COVID-19 shot, Gardner lost his card. He later got an email from the state denying his $100 incentive for the vaccine because it was "not able to verify [his] vaccination."
"For me, it’s more of the principle of it," said Gardner of the $100 gift card.
Both Gardner and Wilman say they tried speaking with their vaccine provider, AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, multiple times.
"They said they’d look into it and get back to me and they never did," said Willman. "One of my coworkers, said ‘what about Contact 6?’"
Contact 6 wrote to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) about Willman and Gardner.
A communications specialist for DHS said they had "contacted the vaccinator who will in turn contact the patients to correct those issues."
Soon after, Contact 6 spoke with the head of AMI’s Wisconsin Vaccination Program, Dan Beck.
"It's uncommon to happen, but it is not unheard of to have an issue with updating a WIR registry," said Beck.
AMI has administered more than 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin. Often, the vaccines were administered at mobile clinics by nurses, EMTs, paramedics or pharmacists.
Beck says registry issues are rare, but when they do happen, an administrative error is usually to blame.
"Your name may have changed," said Beck. "Sometimes there’s a data entry error that may have taken place five years ago, that wasn’t caught at the time, but now becomes apparent."
AMI promptly called both men who wrote to Contact 6.
"In both circumstances, we were able to get those issues resolved," said Beck.
Gardner sent Contact 6 reporter Jenna Sachs a text message saying "thanks for all the help." Willman texted "you did it!"
AMI says it’s usually easy to resolve registry issues, but this is one reason vaccine recipients should hold onto their cards. If your status on the registry is inaccurate, call the provider then Wisconsin 211.
You can verify your vaccinations on WIR here: https://www.dhfswir.org/PR/clientSearch.do?language=en
Full DHS response
Thank you for sharing the concerns some of your viewers have about the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR). WIR strives to collect and maintain thorough and accurate records so people who are immunized in Wisconsin can tell at a glance what immunizations they have received. We are sorry that they are having issues. We have contacted the vaccinator who will in turn contact the patients to correct those issues.
A few things may be behind the issues they are having:
- Sometimes the names and information given at the time of vaccination may not match what is in the WIR and differ enough that the system doesn’t match it up to the existing record.
- In the event the records cannot be merged, people who sign on to WIR will only see the record without errors, so it may not reflect all the vaccines they received, in particular, the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Sometimes the patient’s information is entered incorrectly. In that case, the patient must work with the vaccine provider to remedy the situation.
Aside from what you have presented to us, we don’t have a number of the amount of complaints received about the system.
Our recommendation is that if patients do not see their COVID-19 vaccination in WIR, they should contact their vaccine provider to correct any data entry errors that may have occurred when their COVID-19 vaccine was administered. Once the correct information is entered into the registry, their proof of immunization will be available in WIR.