COVID-19 vaccines have been high in demand since their initial release. Unfortunately, there are not enough vaccines to go around to everyone and the vaccines that are available are spread out throughout sites.
To help simplify matters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital and Castlight Health, is launching a new tool allowing Americans to search for COVID-19 vaccine providers near them. Healthcare providers can list their vaccine availability and vaccinations locations on the VaccineFinder.
“The idea is to show where COVID-19 vaccine providers [are] that are open to the public — how to contact them, how to book an appointment, and try to show the daily inventory status so people are clear where there’s vaccine and where there isn’t,” says John Brownstein, the founder of VaccineFinder and chief information officer at Boston Children’s Hospital.
VaccineFinder serves two roles in the COVID-19 vaccination program, according to the CDC:
- Inventory reporting (required for all COVID-19 vaccination providers): Providers report on-hand COVID-19 vaccine supply each day through the VaccineFinder COVID Locating Health Provider Portal (https://covid.locating.health/loginexternal icon).
- Share information about COVID-19 vaccinating locations (optional for COVID-19 vaccination providers): It is optional for vaccine providers to display their location to the public. COVID-19 vaccination providers that will be receiving vaccines may choose to make their location publicly visible on VaccineFinder, making it easier for the public to find information about locations that carry COVID-19 vaccines and learn how to make an appointment.
- Providers who wish to display their locations to the public on VaccineFinder.org are highly encouraged to include a weblink to an eligibility screener or appointment scheduler, to help direct people to the appropriate next steps for getting vaccinated at their location(s).
- VaccineFinder will be set to NOT display locations to the public by default. Providers must choose to activate their sites.
- Inventory quantities will never be displayed to the public. Instead, the system simply lets users know that there is inventory in stock.
- Vaccines are available by appointment, so users are encouraged to use links or follow directions for next steps providers by each site.
“This is one baby step in the complex numbers of steps people have to take in order to get [a] vaccine, but we hope at least it will help reduce some of the noise and confusion that is out there,” says Brownstein.