PITTSBURGH, PA (KDKA) – The race for a COVID-19 vaccine continues for many families in our region. Children and grandchildren call the Internet looking for older loved ones.
“Pandemonium is the only way I can describe it. We do this by age because there are so many people on the list, ”said Samantha Pitzarella, the pharmacy director at Astis South Hills Pharmacy.
The problem for many people is finding that coveted dose, but three Pennsylvania college students take up the challenge.
“Just make the same calls to the same locations and ask the same availability questions – but we only do this once, update it over time and make it available centrally,” said Seth Rubinstein, a law student in Philadelphia.
Two weeks ago, Rubinstein and two students from the University of Pitt created and launched the website www.vaccinatepa.org.
With a team of volunteers, they will collect the data you need that they cannot find on the state’s website: does this provider have the vaccine? Is there a waiting list? How do I get it? Where do I make an appointment?
“Every time I make a call and tell the hospital or pharmacy that this is what we’re doing, they’re always super pumped because they’re flooded with calls. So if we could cut that by 50 percent, it would have a huge impact. Pitt student Zhengming (Ming) Wang said.
These providers, with whom KDKA spoke, agreed. Any help to free the staff is welcome.
“It is really a busy time. We have spent a lot of time handling and managing this, ”said Pitzarella.
What makes a group of students take on such a large task between class and homework?
“One of the things I’ve always loved about software engineering and computer science is that just sitting at your desk can be a big influence on it. And during these quarantine times, I’m not even in Pittsburgh, I’m at home. It’s a great experience to be able to make a big impression from my desk, “said Pitt student Richey Goulazian.
The success of the project depends on the number of people willing to help. At the moment the team consists of five to ten volunteers and the makers are looking for more help.
If you’d like to volunteer for calls, contact the team at email@example.com.