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Vaccine site by on-leave engineer keeps going

Olivia Adams / WBUR photoOlivia Adams / WBUR photo

As state site falls

UPDATED, Feb. 19: An Arlington woman on maternity leave from her job as a software engineer has accomplished what state officials have so far struggled to do -- create an easy way for people to find Covid-19 vaccine appointments open in the state.

Olivia Adams launched her site, macovidvaccines.com, in early February. It lists vaccination sites around the state, and each has dates and the number of open slots. For example, the site showed slots open at Gillette Stadium, one of the locations closer to Arlington.

Various media outlets reported this story, including Patch, a YourArlington partner. BostonGlobe.com reports Feb. 8 that Adams has some friendly competition from a group of Boston-area volunteers who’ve built another alternative to the official government site.

On Feb. 18, residents seeking appointments but frustrated by the crashing state site turned to Adams's. She told BostonGlobe.com that she experienced a surge in traffic on her website, macovidvaccines.com, but some people were unable to use it to make appointments at major vaccination locations like Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium because of the problems with the state system.

 

Despite the traffic, Adams said her website did not crash. She designed it to work off an internet cloud-based system that has ample capacity for traffic spikes.Covid-19 image

A new, competing site, VaccinateMA.com, contains recent information on vaccine availability at about 125 locations throughout the state. That makes it more comprehensive than Adams’s macovidvaccines.com site, which tracks a much smaller number of locations.

Adams, who works for Athenahealth, has included vaccination sites from the state's main vaccination map, as well as private sites run by pharmacies and other medical facilities. So far, she's working alone, but is seeking help and donations to keep the project going.

'Kept hearing frustrations'

She said she built the site in reaction to the state's rocky vaccine roll-out.

"In January, during my maternity leave, I started working on creating [the website]," she wrote on her GoFundMe page. "My mother-in-law was having trouble booking an appointment for her vaccine, and then had the same trouble when she was trying to get her father vaccinated. I kept hearing the same frustrations over and over — from family, from friends, and on the news. The sign-up process was too confusing, too disjointed."

Gov. Charlie Baker said this week said he's "not satisfied with where we are" on the roll-out, and has said the state will add more appointments in the coming weeks. The state has also agreed to create a vaccine hot line for seniors who may not have access to a computer or the internet.

People over age 75 became eligible for the vaccine on Feb. 1, with more groups set to be eligible in the coming weeks.

The process has also been difficult for cities and towns staging their own clinics.

Town frustration

In Arlington, Health Director Christine Bongiorno said Thursday that, along with other local health departments across the state, the town is only being allotted 100 vaccine doses a week, Patch reported

"We're extremely frustrated and quite upset that we're not receiving the number of vaccines necessary to cover our population," Bongiorno said. "We do understand there is a supply-chain issue."

As of Feb. 4, just under 700,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in the state, according to a weekly Department of Public Health report. Just 3.6 percent of those doses have been given at one of the state's three mass vaccination sites — and a fourth supersite is set to open in Worcester on Feb. 16. About 75 percent of doses had been given at either a hospital or a CVS store, according to the DPH report.


Jan. 1 through 31, 2021: Town Covid-19 tracking


This news summary was published Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, and updated Feb. 19. 

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