Two Ryerson University students have created an online tool to help Ontario residents track down nearby COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
Reza Khonsari and James Heaney’s Find My Vax dashboard takes a user’s postal code and displays dates and times for upcoming appointments at nearby pharmacies and government-run immunization clinics.
They were inspired to create a one-stop-shop platform after having difficulties finding their own vaccine appointments.
“I was trying to book vaccine appointments for my parents, and spots were getting filled up very quickly,” Khonsari told Daily Hive. “I was spending hours a day just trying to find a vaccine spot, and I thought what if there was a platform or site to show you the nearest vaccine appointment?”
Heaney had to visit several different websites before getting his shot — including the provincial booking tool, York Region’s website, and Shoppers Drug Mart’s site.
“I’m pretty techy, and this was confusing for me,” he said.
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The friends are studying engineering and have made apps before — last year the Ryersonian reported on their dating platform called RU Mine. But this time, their project has a much wider appeal.
“As citizens, we have a duty to get vaccinated and a duty to help each other. We always have to help each other,” Khonsari said.
Find My Vax lets users sign up for email alerts when vaccine slots open up near them. The students say more than 1,000 people have already used the tool since it launched on Wednesday and hundreds have signed up for the email notifications.
Ontario’s patchwork vaccine booking strategy has been criticized before for being hard to use. Right now, adults in Ontario can get a vaccine through the province, through a pharmacy, or through a hotspot pop-up clinic. Some can be booked online, whereas others are drop-in.
To date, more than 7 million Ontarians have been vaccinated, and the province plans to move to the first phase of its new re-opening strategy around June 14, once 60% of adults have received a first dose and had two weeks to develop immunity from it.
Khonsari and Heaney hope their tool can bring Ontario one step closer to reaching herd immunity.