A Volunteer-Run Website Helps You Find a Vaccine Appointment in New York City’s Online Maze

A banner hangs from the ceiling at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on January 13, 2021 during a media tour of the new state vaccination site in New York City.

A banner hangs from the ceiling at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on January 13, 2021 during a media tour of the new state vaccination site in New York City.
Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP (Getty Images)

It’s no secret that New York City, like many other places in the U.S., has been having a hard time with covid-19 vaccine distribution. One of the problems is its messy online sign-up website, which some city officials have denounced as “complex, burdensome, and buggy.” Officials said that this would create an obstacle for many people, especially for the seniors considered a priority group for vaccination.

That’s where NYC Vaccine List comes in. Launched in mid-January, it’s a user-friendly website created and run by volunteers that scans vaccine appointment data from multiple locations, such as the websites of clinics, pharmacies, and other locations, and groups them together. The site then presents the information on one page which shows locations with available vaccine appointments, locations that don’t have vaccine appointments, and locations where the information isn’t up to date.

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When it finds sites that do have vaccine appointments, NYC Vaccine List includes a sign-up button, which takes users directly to the website of the location with availability. If it sounds simple folks, that’s because it is, and that is such a breath of fresh air during a time when everything just seems harder. NYC Vaccine List is also great because you don’t have to click through endless pages to find what you’re looking for, unlike other websites.

As reported by the Verge, the website tackles one of the biggest challenges of online vaccine appointment sign-ups in New York City: fragmentation. The outlet points out that a variety of entities, including the city, the state, and hospital groups, are distributing the vaccine and using multiple registration websites. This means that in order to find an appointment, users have to check a variety of places, which can be undeniably frustrating.

According to the outlet, software developer Dan Benamy experienced this chaos firsthand and decided to reach out to friends and colleagues to try to create a solution. Within a few days, they had created NYC Vaccine List, which currently lists vaccine appointment data from about 40 locations.

In the past few weeks, Benamy said the website has been viewed tens of thousands of times.

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“The tools are out there to let people do amazing things, and we thought that if there was at least a chance we could help, we’d give it a shot,” Benamy told the Verge.

Their work on the site isn’t over, though. Benamy said their top priority is getting more information on vaccine availability and that they’re continuing to build more tools to pull in information from other locations. At the moment, he said that the site offers information on appointments in the greater metro area and Long Island. It aims to offer more information on appointments in the surrounding area next.

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As for giving New York City itself a hand, Benamy said the volunteers would love to help in whatever way they could. They would also welcome any data feeds about vaccine availability that could be incorporated into NYC Vaccine List.

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The takeaway here is that even though vaccine rollout is undeniably a difficult task, you don’t need to complicate it more through by putting up online mazes for people to navigate through. If volunteers could manage to make it easy, surely New York City, and other places, can do so as well.

[The Verge]

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