COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule in Uruguay

Our daily life drastically changed on March 13th, 2020, when the first COVID case was announced in Uruguay.

One of the most affected fields was the healthcare field, which generated changes in medical attention and the adjustment to the new reality.

The creation of vaccines was accelerated as a consequence of the effects that the pandemic was causing throughout the world. Different laboratories started a race against the clock to find a vaccine that was capable of stopping infections and deaths. However, once the solution was found, there had to be a distribution mechanism and the vaccine had to be applied quickly to the entire population.

In March 2021, the vaccination process started in Uruguay, which posed a massive logistics and planning challenge. One of the main components in the process was the vaccination schedule, which implied a software through which Uruguayans could secure their vaccination spot.

Many years ago, Uruguay had already started computerizing several processes at a national level. Both the Ministry of Public Health (MSP for its acronym in Spanish) and AGESIC had software available to configure, request, and assign vaccination spots successfully, but it was not quick enough to support mass requests in such a short period of time.

The vaccination against COVID was aimed at the whole population, which was going to generate for many people to enter the same system simultaneously in order to get a date and a time to be vaccinated.

It was then, with that scenario, that we offered support to both organisms to find a solution.

Solution and scope

A layer was implemented over the scheduling software that MSP and AGESIC already had. The base system did not change; what we did was to implement a layer over the system and users in order to be able to manage the mass demand. The goal was for users to be able to enter their request without any concurrency issues, because thousands of people were expected to enter the application at the same time, and to regulate the scheduling demands in order to respond at the maximum capacity.

There were several technical requirements: the system structure had to be respected, it had to be available 24x7, the security of the information had to be guaranteed, it had to be compliant with the regulations in place for personal data, and it had to be able to withstand a high usage demand. In order to comply with prerequisites, it was very important to make decisions early on regarding the architecture and to consolidate the project with that design.

In addition, the system had to be accessible from different platforms, and it had to be user-friendly both for digital natives and for the elderly. To that purpose, several ways to access the system were considered: web, chatbot, call center, and the CoronavirusUy app. Each of them had different technical implementation competencies.

Technologies and tools

The layer that was created had several components. The two most relevant ones are:

  • Amazon, which makes the infrastructure required to support the high demand available. This allowed us, for example, to enable logins and to receive more than a million requests in a few hours. 
  • Local infrastructure developed with GeneXus, which processes each request considering several aspects, and assigns it an order in the waiting queue according to the different priorities there were to receive the vaccines. For example, healthcare personnel, education, age ranges (starting with the elderly), expectant mothers, etc.

These decisions were accompanied with agile methodologies and the use of DevOps, reaffirming the benefits of automating everything that could be automated in the development lifecycle, and the importance of having a multidisciplinary team with different technical specializations. These types of tools allowed us to deploy versions in an agile way, which was vital for the project.

Results

The solution allowed us to respond to more than one million vaccination requests and to distribute them all throughout the country. 

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