A new website, called “Vaccination Standby," was launched to prevent wasting as many doses of the coronavirus vaccine as possible.
Registered providers sometimes end up with a surplus when people miss appointments or when vails come with extra doses, according to the VaxStandby website, which must used within six hours lest they be thrown away.
The providers tell the service how much is leftover, the time remaining and how many people they want to notify. VaxStandby then sends a text message to registered people in the area, based on zip code, in case they can make it to the site.
People can sign up online to receive text alerts when doses become available at a nearby vaccine site.
More than 1,200 coronavirus vaccine dose have been tossed so far during Massachusetts’ highly-scrutinized vaccine rollout, the state's Department of Public Health confirmed earlier this week.
The idea behind the service is to reduce waste, but also to avoid situations like the long lines at a mass vaccination site in Danvers, which formed when word spread that extra doses were available.
Creators of VaxStandby emphasize that a vaccine isn’t guaranteed, even if you get a text. The service was developed by two software engineers, one of whom is a Watertown resident.
Ian Macartney, 33 of Watertown, and Jimmy Chion, 33 of Atlanta, are friends from their time at Stanford University. The pair got together to launch vaxstandby.com on Feb. 1. and are still looking for vaccine providers to pilot the program.
Amid mounting complaints and frustration in Massachusetts over what some have found a cumbersome and confusing vaccine sign-up process, these engineers are not the only tech industry experts trying to streamline it.
Olivia Adams, an Arlington software developer and mother of two, decided to create her own website after hearing from her mother-in-law about how difficult it was to find available vaccinations and sign up for an appointment using Massachusetts' online portal.
Meanwhile, approximately 74,000 new appointments went online at mass vaccination sites and pharmacies across Massachusetts this week.
The appointments came online after the state announced that caregivers who are accompanying a person 75 or older may schedule their own vaccination at the same time and location.
The new companion eligibility rules are intended to make the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to residents 75 and older, but Gov. Charlie Baker issued a warning Thursday after hearing 'disturbing reports' of people trying to take advantage.
There are currently five mass vaccination sites across the state; two in Boston at Fenway Park and the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, and three others at Gillette Stadium, the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield.
A sixth mass vaccination is scheduled to open at Worcester State University on Feb. 16. Baker announced two additional mass vaccination sites in the pipeline Wednesday; one at the Natick Mall, slated to open Feb. 22, and another two days later at an old Circuit City in Dartmouth.
The new sites will begin administering 500 doses per day and gradually increase capacity over several weeks. The Dartmouth site will scale up to about 2,000 doses a day and the Natick site, 3,000. Appointments will be able to book online beginning Thursday, Feb. 18.
To find a site near you, go to mass.gov/covidvaccine, or call Massachusetts' new 211 appointment hotline, which was launched last week to help senior citizens who have struggled to navigate the state's vaccine website.