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Technology to the Rescue

So, I have been completely vaccinated against Covid-19, as have some of my friends. What we all have in common was that we had to spend a lot of time and energy finding a place to get vaccinated. Searching multiple websites for a place that was going to have open appointments to get vaccinated, waiting for a slot to open, and then jumping on it. In my case, the only place I could find (after weeks of searching) was a two-hour drive away (each way).

It was the Moderna vaccine, so I had to drive there twice. And now Moderna is saying that they are working on a booster vaccine, to guard against new varieties and strains, so I might have to do this all again. What a mess!

But a private citizen decided to do something about it! Nick Muerdter is a programmer (like me!) and built a website that shows open vaccine appointments for all 50 states — the COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter! Check it out!

According to Muerdter:

It seemed like a lot of people were just spending a lot of time on these pharmacy websites. And those were particularly frustrating just because it was, you know, you go to the website, you enter a zip code, you select a store and then nope, no, no appointments. And then you need to try a different store or try a different zip code.

All you have to do is give the website your zip code, and tell it how far you are willing to drive. The website does all the mechanical work to find any available appointments (something that computers are good at!)

If you are a programmer, the website is open source, so you can contribute to make the site better.

My only question is, why didn’t the government do this months ago? You might be forgiven for thinking that maybe because someone incompetent was in charge of the government.

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5 Comments

  1. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Interesting. In my state (a blue state run by a red Governor, I know kind of weird), they have set up a robust system that includes: 12 mass vaccination sites around the state, mobile vaccination trucks, and partnered with numerous CVS/Walgreen and other commercial stores. The State runs a website so you can schedule an appointment in advance at your convenience, and there is also a call center for those who don’t have internet or just don’t like computers. The Governor set up a task force between civilian, state and National Guard leaders and an infrastructure for efficient mass distribution. There are no federal entities involved. The Governor’s office sends out a daily update on the number of doses received, given and the total number of state residents that have received one or both doses. The Governors office also holds a weekly press conference letting us know how many doses are expected to arrive in the next week.

    All the mass sites are spread throughout the state so that most people can drive to one in 30 min or less. There are other in higher population cities situated near mass transit centers for those without their own transportation. I used one of the mass sites, about 20 min from my home. I made the appointment 7 days prior. They had a system set up inside the building with a combination of civilian and military members at 40-50 individual stations within the gymnasium like building, that could give 100’s of shots per hour. The process reminded me of the military method of mass medical delivery, which makes sense since the Governor placed one of the states National Guard generals in charge of the distribution program.

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  2. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Ooops, forgot one other good news piece on COVID 19 from Johns Hopkins

    https://foxbaltimore.com/news/local/hopkins-study-finds-immune-cells-still-strong-against-covid-variants

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7:46 am | Permalink
  3. notycoon22 wrote:

    The link is pretty useful. We’ve been concerned about our relatives in Iowa – both well into their 70s – who have been unable to get vaccinated. Their excuse? They can’t get an appointment to get jabbed. Now, looking at their town, I find that there are no available appointments within 60 miles. So, it’s not an excuse, it’s a sad statement of the difficulty of someone who is not overly tech savvy to get signed up. The state has apparently not taken the steps such at PSgt describes. Sad.

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  4. notycoon22 wrote:

    Just to follow up on the centralized system to get vaccinated, California has been using one for several months. D

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  5. Peter wrote:

    My J&J went pretty easily…

    There’s a pharmacist in the complex where I work, so I asked her to “add me to the list.” When she got vaccines, she said, “When do you want to come in?”

    Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

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