Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Can volunteers help people find vaccine appointments effectively?

 

"Blair Witch Project" 

Joanna Stern has a big writeup in the Wall Street Journal on tips for securing vaccine appointments online, particularly if you just became eligible.  Some of the suggestions are obvious – use the best browser extensions. 

She also suggested looking for Facebook groups with vaccine info for your state.  Virginia did not have one. 

I have already had both shots.  It was very difficult at first.  I tried the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington at first in early February, and got caught in a loop (recommended from my doctor).  Virginia set up a site, but allowed Fairfax County to keep its own.  I got Fairfax County’s to work.  I filled out a questionnaire and it notified me by email to make an appointment.  I did not see the email at first because of spam.  When I did, I found it would show appointments already closed when I went to them. But this problem quickly resolved.  Soon I had an appointment at George Mason University in Fairfax on Feb 27.

I also missed the invitation for the second appointment at first. When I proceeded, it offered me dates earlier than the full three weeks.  I took one two days early, and it warned me about this when confirming the appointment, but the vaccine appointment (at a pharmacy in Herndon) went OK and I wound up being vaccinated on live television (WJLA7).

Many of these problems are due to kinky websites with hasty “business analysis”.

Jennifer Levitz writes about volunteers who schedule appointments for seniors or people with poor Internet access.  Should I have felt morally obligated to do this for social credit?  I would wonder about having to get personal information from so many people to do this.  Also, the need is likely to be very short-term.  In my case, Fairfax County did improve very quickly in making its site usable with reasonable effort. Helpfulness in this area seems to depend on personal proximity with the people who need the help.

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