Back in late January, we created a simple Google spreadsheet that was basically a database listing detailed information for COVID-19 vaccination sites in New Jersey. The sheet included availability status, plus information on how to make appointments or get on waitlists. The goal was to make the process of getting an appointment less frustrating for residents of the state. Some people were spending hours each day calling and emailing vaccination sites listed on a state list, when in fact some sites were no longer accepting appointments, or were only taking appointments by phone, or were only accepting existing patients. Our spreadsheet also used crowdsourced information from residents who posted comments on individual entries.
We then joined forces with other concerned citizens who wanted to help residents of the state, but didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and create another site that would be duplicating efforts. We teamed up and worked together to update the spreadsheet, which is embedded on many websites across the state. New vaccine sites are added to the database each day, thanks to the work of Princeton resident Leon Wu, who created the vaccinatenj.com website (and originally connected with us on Twitter back in January!). One major result of our joint efforts is a much better and easier to search database that we released over the weekend. The new and improved database, created by volunteer Taylor Calise, pings major pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens every five minutes for real-time information on vaccine appointment availability. It is also easier to sort and filter results, and volunteer entries have been standardized. You can view the database on our website here.
Almost 200 volunteers have been working with the Vaccinate NJ team to help us by updating vaccination site information every day for sites where verification can’t be automated, or by helping schedule vaccine appointments for residents who need them. We are working to add additional features to the website and database in the near future. Students in a programming class at Princeton University are also working on a project that will enable people to receive alerts when vaccination site information is updated and a site has appointment openings, along with other features.
If you would like to join our volunteer effort, please fill out our volunteer form here. Thank you to all of the volunteers in the effort who have been helping New Jersey residents over the past few months.
We are still crowdsourcing information, corrections, and suggestions about our database and website on our new Reddit page at https://www.reddit.com/r/VaccinateNJ/.