Pitt Undergrads are making a volunteer-run web site to assist folks in PA plan COVID vaccines
A volunteer-run website aims to make it easier for people to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The VaccinatePA.org website was started by two computer science students from the University of Pittsburgh, along with Seth Rubinstein, a Montgomery County student from Harvard Law School.
Users are asked to select a county. From there, they’ll see a list of vendors that they recently reported making appointments after.
Some Pennsylvanians have said that trying to book appointments through the state’s website is time consuming and often unsuccessful. The goal of this website, Rubinstein says, be it to make the process easier and less time consuming for people who may not be tech savvy or who have a lot of free time.
“It really boils down to getting a vaccine, having the time and the bandwidth and the technical familiarity to do a lot and a lot of research,” he said. “We’re trying to reduce this burden.”
The website pulls data from the Department of Health’s interactive map as well as weekly updates of the state where the vaccines were distributed, Rubinstein said. “But the real value we’re trying to help is to have called these places as recently as possible to see if they have the status.”
Approximately one hundred volunteers make “hundreds of calls” every day to keep this information up to date. Those volunteers include college students, working adults, and senior Pennsylvanians who used the website and then asked how they could help others, he said.
Rubenstein said he was stuck at home working on his law degree when the idea hit him. He was associated with Pittsburgh University computer science students Richie Goulazian and Ming Wang.
A core team of 10 volunteers built the website and Rubinstein reached out to his alma mater, Swarthmore, as well as Pitt and Temple University and began recruiting volunteers to make the calls. The team is working to further automate this process by receiving regular updates from the providers.
Although it has taken countless hours of volunteer work to become a reality since it began in January, the effort so far has cost only $ 8 to register the web domainaccinatepa.org. The money, he says, is “self-financed”.
Rubinstein is a vocal supporter of the General Assembly’s efforts to establish a central register of vaccine appointments. He sees the website as a stop-gap measure that will make the process easier until then.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health was asked to comment on the effort. It focuses on working with trusted local vendors to get vaccines up and running as quickly as possible, as available from the federal government. It seems that Vaccinate PA has the same goal in mind. The department will continue to keep the map of trusted local vaccine providers as current as possible. “
Vendors across Pennsylvania are expected to receive a record number of vaccines this week. The state will receive more than 225,000 first doses and 185,000 second doses, Department of Health’s special assistant to secretary Lindsey Mauldin said Tuesday. A total of more than 400,000 cans are expected this week.
- 224 new cases
- 2 new deaths
- 2,356 new cases
- 81 new deaths
- 1,972 patients admitted to hospital
- 433 patients in intensive care units
- 2,147,135 vaccines administered