Twitter 'Bots' Help San Diegans Book COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments
Eligibility and demand for vaccines always seems to outpace the supply. So some people with technology backgrounds are trying to help others book that elusive vaccination appointment.
They’re using Twitter to create automated accounts, known as bots, that do the bulk of the appointment searching for those who are looking to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
One of the accounts is called San Diego Vaccine Bot, which was created in early March by the bay-area based cybersecurity engineer Omar Darwish. He has multiple bot accounts for large population centers in California, all of which scan for appointments on the My Turn platform.
“This bot does that checking for you, all the time, once every five minutes,” Darwish said. “And if it finds something, it’ll let you know that there is something for you to scoop up. It's not perfect but it does take away the burden of you having to check and hope that there is something that you can pick up.”
Darwish isn’t alone in creating vaccine-finding Twitter bots for San Diegans. Another automated Twitter account is called VaxSpotter.
It focuses on finding pharmacies that have available COVID-19 appointments, according to its creator Kyle Shannon.
“People who still need one and are in the risk group, getting them appointments quickly, especially people who can't sit there all day and refresh — they have kids or they have jobs where they can't sit down at the computer — that makes it all worth it and really great,” Shannon said.
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And the different COVID-19 bot creators are working together. That’s demonstrated in yet another Twitter profile called San Diego COVID Vaccine Bot, which is run by a separate designer but shares appointment information from the accounts Darwish and Shannon created.
“The single goal is to try and get as many shots in arms as possible, because it benefits all of us,” Darwish said. “It doesn't really matter how we get there as long as we get there. So, if it increases visibility, by all means we try to surface information that one of the bots has that the other might not.”
To find and use the Twitter bots, search the Internet for @CovidVaccineSD, @CovaxSd and @VaxSpotter.