Toronto software engineers have launched a text messaging tool that helps users find an immunization site closest to their zip code. “All you have to do is text a phone number with your zip code and it will get back to you immediately with two or three nearest vaccination sites near you,” said Zain Manji, the ” one of the creators of the tool On the coast host Gloria Macarenko.
The service responds with the location name, address, phone number and website of provincially approved vaccination sites, including pharmacies and clinics.
Manji, the co-founder of Lazer Technologies, says he and his co-creator came up with the idea last Friday after seeing a tweet describing a similar texting tool in the United States.
“We just wondered if it was available in Canada and we saw that it wasn’t,” he said. “We realized it would be quick for us. It would take us about one to two hours to do it. And we did. ”
Three hours later, the text messaging tool was launched in Ontario. The co-creators shared it on Twitter and it quickly went viral.
“We had so many people texting within an hour or two of its launch that the carriers thought it was spam and actually blocked the phone number. “
Since calling the carrier to unlock the phone number on Friday, Manji says more than 85,000 Ontarians have already texted to find vaccine locations.
He and his co-creator launched the tool in British Columbia on Monday. They received positive feedback from users who were able to book vaccine appointments through the texting service.
“We like to see it because it means it is working for some people and it means we’re probably a little closer to being a normal life,” Manji said.
He says that in British Columbia, vaccine location information is currently only available for 45 of the province’s 192 postal codes.
“So I would say BC is probably a little behind in its deployment compared to Ontario,” he said. “But the service works for BC, so anyone in BC can try texting them and try to find a location. “
British Columbians can text 1-833-356-1683 with their postal code and will receive an instant response with nearby vaccination sites.
The tool is fully funded by Lazer Technologies, although it eventually hopes to get discounts or credits from the phone provider.