Given that more COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon, but supplies are still limited, health professionals and people searching for vaccines have been frustrated with the lack of a coordinated response.
A 27-year-old software engineer has developed his own solution to support the growing number of vaccine-enabled people in urgent need of tracking down cans.
On Tuesday, Kansas City-resident Peter Carnesciali set up a Twitter account to alert people when vaccines become available in their area using a computer app he developed in his spare time.
Carnesciali said he was inspired to create the KC Vaccine Watch after signing up for numerous systems developed by various health departments and pharmacies.
“I definitely think that it can be confusing for people how to register with Kansas City, you can register with Jackson County, you can register with the state of Missouri,” says Carnesciali. “This is not a substitute for this, but there is a way that could help people get it even faster.”
Although his goal was to create a notification system for himself, he quickly saw the greater potential.
“I got the idea that this could let me know when dates become available, and then I thought other people would like to know too,” says Carnesciali.
As of last Friday night, he spent about 15 to 20 hours building KC Vaccine Watch, a project he describes as “fun.” It can be followed by anyone on Twitter. While currently only tracking vaccine offerings at Hy-Vee locations, he plans to add more pharmacies and other locations as they become available.
KC Vaccine Watch has been used by a friend’s Church member to make appointments.
Carnesciali says he was particularly moved by a message he received about a ward who had been vaccinated so they could see their husband, who recently entered hospice care.
“It’s pretty crazy to see an impact like this,” says Carnesciali.
He admits that his project will leave many gaps, especially for people with limited internet access or skills.
Still, KC Vaccine Watch has attracted hundreds of followers, and Carnesciali invites other software engineers to help him update and maintain the open source project.
He says he has no plans to raise or accept donations to support the work.
“Everyone can do their part to stop the spread, save lives and get back to normal,” says Carnesciali.