Soon, any American eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to search VaccineFinder, an easy-to-use website hosted and run by Boston Children’s Hospital with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The site went live last week in Alaska, Tennessee, Indiana and Iowa, and will be extended to other states as vaccine distribution ramps up around the country. Its design is simple: When users enter their ZIP code in the search bar, VaccineFinder quickly identifies the closest pharmacies and health care providers offering COVID-19 vaccines. Search results will show each provider’s address, an interactive map of the location, its phone number and hours, and which COVID-19 vaccines it has in stock (Moderna, Pfizer, etc.).
“Not all states have the resources to build this type of website, so this tool can help them support a vaccine rollout,” says John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s and founder of VaccineFinder, which is maintained by the hospital’s Computational Epidemiology Lab and Innovation Program.
VaccineFinder also provides general information on the different COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine eligibility, encouraging users to confirm their eligibility with their local or state health department. The platform also allows vaccine providers to include screening tools alongside their listing to help people know if they meet eligibility criteria in their area.
Participating vaccine providers must register on VaccineFinder and provide daily updates on vaccine availability through an online portal.
Building on an established tool
Boston Children’s has operated VaccineFinder since 2012 to help people locate flu shots and other routinely recommended vaccines. With CDC support, the site has been updated to focus on providing COVID-19 vaccine information. The back-end technology is provided by Castlight Health, a leading health care technology company.
Boston Children’s is currently negotiating with Google Maps, Waze, Facebook, and Apple to feed vaccine provider data into these popular platforms.
“VaccineFinder will play an integral role in the federal vaccine response by supporting the CDC’s initiative to quantify doses on hand across the U.S.,” says Kara Sewalk, program manager for VaccineFinder. “The goal is to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines for people who are eligible.”
Check VaccineFinder to search for COVID-19 vaccines in your area
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