COVID-19 Vaccine: State Programs and Success

While a number of states appear to have well-implemented vaccine programs, several seem to be considerably more successful than others. Among those states are examples such as New Mexico, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. There are a variety of different reasons behind their success, but generally speaking, it’s often driven by making the vaccine registration process as simple and streamlined as possible, as well as emphasizing a focus on crucial populations like frontline healthcare, seniors, and rural communities. Additional details are broken down by state below.

New Mexico

  • The State of New Mexico partnered with Real Time Solutions to develop an app for centralized information and registration; this has helped them to reach number one in the nation for vaccine distribution. The app/website includes helpful, user-friendly sections like frequently asked questions and a written-up administration/distribution plan to inform on vaccine eligibility every step of the way.
  • Very early on in the pandemic, the state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, demanded a COVID dashboard for cases and tests by county/zip code. Since Real Time Solutions ran and updated this dashboard, their development of an app to disseminate vaccine information and registration as fast as possible served as a “natural extension” of what they’d already been doing with the dashboard for the past ten months.
  • Organization and communication are crucial to their success; the state’s Department of Health has their own vaccine team that meets daily to plan and coordinate delivery, putting a particular emphasis on rural areas and connections with hospital providers.


  • Wisconsin has some of the highest vaccine allocation numbers in the country. Since there aren’t as many tangible points of reference here, we have to infer potential causes from their plan/program based on what information is publicly available. Much like New Mexico, they make use of an informational dashboard to collect vaccine data and information. The Pfizer vaccine is sent to regional hospitals (or hubs) before being sent to the administration centers, while the Moderna vaccine is shipped directly to the administration centers.
  • The state’s Department of Health Services has elected to use a portion of Wisconsin’s Moderna vaccines as part of the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. This portion is being sent to long-term care facilities, but because it is directed by the federal government, it isn’t technically counted for “ordered/in transit” vaccine dose figures.
  • The dashboard explains that Wisconsin is using “targeted distribution” and “strategic outreach with community stakeholders” to assist communities of color in addressing and rectifying barriers to vaccine access and virus relief.

South Dakota

  • South Dakota’s distribution is handled solely by a small number of healthcare providers that have twice-weekly phone meetings in order to address any changes and updates that may need to be made. These providers (who are normally competitors) meet along with state officials, with no more than 15 people on the line at once. Since it’s entirely possible (even likely) that one provider eventually falls behind or runs short on doses, this structure allows for the other providers to work together and shift resources to wherever they’re most needed.
  • The state’s distribution plan is ultimately built upon a few simple, but inviolable tenets: don’t waste a dose, don’t leave a dose refrigerated over the weekend, and never break the “mutually agreed hierarchy” for what groups are eligible to be vaccinated at any given time.
  • Much like New Mexico and Wisconsin, South Dakota is prioritizing critical populations in the determination of eligibility and administration, such as healthcare personnel and senior citizens. More specifically, South Dakota holds weekly meetings with the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board to discuss COVID response and vaccine distribution. This is quite similar to Wisconsin’s “strategic outreach” approach, in that it’s a clear endeavor to aid under-served communities with acquiring the vaccine. This is an important step, since rural allocation and distribution is proving to be a significant difficulty/obstacle for states with lower numbers.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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