On Monday and Tuesday, the state dashboard mistakenly reclassified final doses as booster doses. On Wednesday, the state said an algorithm problem was fixed.
AUGUSTA, Maine — On Wednesday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention addressed data issues on the state vaccination dashboard earlier in the week that mistakenly reclassified final doses as booster doses.
On Monday and Tuesday, the state dashboard showed a subtraction of final doses from the state’s totals. At the time, a Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said the adjustment was due to vaccinators mistakenly entering booster doses as final doses, so the data needed to be adjusted. The result: dropping the state’s total percentage of people vaccinated from more than 70% to nearly 66%.
On Wednesday, the data was reclassified again, essentially restoring the final and booster doses, causing confusion for those who keep a close eye on the dashboard. That same spokesperson said the issue was now fixed.
During the Maine CDC/DHHS COVID update, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah explained the issue in detail.
“The most important thing to know is, at no time has anyone’s vaccination data [been lost], changed, altered or amended or compromised. In any way, period,” Shah said. “Staff at the Maine CDC spotted a problem early on last week. Our first priority was to ensure that none of the raw data was affected, and it was not. We then worked with our dashboard vendor, the vendor that creates the visualizations that you see, because that vendor was using an algorithm that wasn’t properly drawing on the data, the underlying data, and projecting and visualizing it properly. We worked with them to spot the problem. We found the problem, and we ran all of the analysis on our data. That process is done now, and the numbers on the website have been updated to reflect that reanalysis.”
Shah explained in more detail that the problem arose when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded booster eligibility last week.
The algorithm the website uses began reclassifying final doses for the primary series, such as Moderna or Pfizer shots, of those who had not yet received the third dose and reclassifying them to the booster or additional dose category.
“The system was reading the data and assuming that only a third dose should be counted as a final dose, instead of reading the data as first dose, second/final dose plus booster,” Shah said. “I can’t tell you the number of times I had to go over that with my team to make sure I understood it. We started diving in with our vendor. We spotted the part of the algorithm that needed to be updated, got it updated, [and] reprogrammed. It reevaluated all the data, and it is correct as of now.
“But just to underscore, the visualization sits on top of the raw data, the raw data in no way were affected, altered, or amended, compromised or changed at all. The raw data were intact. Where we had to fix was the visualization that draws upon those raw data.”