People are fed up with broken vaccine appointment tools — so they’re building their own

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The nation’s vaccine rollout has been messy, in other words. Now, desperate people are taking matters into their own hands.

Take Carri Carver. She had spent hours trying to find her father an appointment, once he had qualified for a vaccine under Texas rules. He went to several local pharmacies that were listed on the state’s official site, none of which had any vaccines left. Some told him to “come back later and ask again.”

“I was like, ‘That’s a terrible answer,’” Carver says. “This is going to be a challenge for him. He’s very healthy and in the younger part of the age group. What about the people who are older or can’t go around to check [for vaccines]?”

That very day, January 2, Carver worked from 3 in the afternoon until 11:30 at night to create Covid19 Vaccine TX, a site listing possible vaccination locations across the state. As a digital product designer, she knew that a site like this would have to be easy to read, intuitive to navigate, and quick to update. The idea was that people could upload information about vaccination sites, with each entry answering three questions: Was the vaccine available that day? Was the location taking appointments? Was there a wait list?

Carver loaded the project on the cloud-based spreadsheet service Airtable, posted a link on Reddit, and went to bed. When she woke up the next morning at 7 a.m., one entry was filled out. “At least somebody cares,” she remembers thinking. She spent the rest of the day manually inserting information for about 1,400 locations in the state. “I’ve been going nonstop since,” she says, estimating that she puts in about 40 hours of her free time every week to maintain the site. It has received 50,000 total visitors since launch.

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