The NYC Vaccine List, which launched on Jan. 13, pulls together in one place available vaccine appointments from 46 locations — and counting — across the five boroughs and nearby suburbs, including Long Island and Westchester County.
“This is a real crisis situation with the pandemic and there’s a lot of people at every level of government and institutions working really hard to get the vaccine out to people but we saw a place where we could add just one little piece to the puzzle and we were really happy to help,” Dan Benamy, a software developer who created the site with other volunteers, told The Post.
The effort was applauded Wednesday by Councilman Mark Levine, the chair of the council’s Committee on Health and a frequent critic of the city’s vaccine rollout.
“I am just in awe of what these volunteers have built and it’s what the city has desperately needed,” Levine told The Post after tweeting the NYC Vaccine List is “the hottest website in NYC now.”
“Of course it’s outrageous that it took volunteers to do this and government, at any level, hasn’t stepped in with its resources, but it does prove we can build something better for the public that can simplify what is a very chaotic process for scheduling right now.”
Currently, in order to find a vaccine through the city’s own convoluted system, residents have to sort through more than a hundred public and private vaccine sites, fill out their information on individual pages and pray there’s an open appointment.
If there’s not, they have to start the process over again or continue clicking refresh on the vaccination site of their choice.
The city has a Vaccine Finder portal, but it just feeds out to the individual websites and does not track available appointments. The city also has three separate websites to sign up for shots at its own sites, depending on what kind of clinic they are.
Meanwhile, the state has its own sign-up site for its facilities.
“It’s just an incredibly fractured system that requires you to visit the website of dozens of providers and register and do an eligibility screen at each one,” Levine said.
“It can take hours, days even, and it’s complicated, you need to have practical know-how. Obviously seniors, [who are] the most vulnerable, I think are facing the biggest obstacles in this registration system.”
The tech-savvy creators of NYC Vaccine List are striving to simplify the process by providing real-time information on where open vaccine appointments are by using web crawlers that check the websites of clinics, pharmacies and other locations that have been distributing the booster.
As soon as one of the vaccine sites has an open appointment, NYC Vaccine List will know about it and post it on its website.
“[The program] constantly runs in the background so if some site publishes a vaccine appointment, almost immediately it’ll show up on our site as being available,” Benamy, 36, explained.
The dad of two, who lives in Boerum Hill, got the idea for the program after he helped his grandparents sign up for a vaccine appointment when they became eligible.
“I did manage to get my grandparents signed up, but basically after that I was just wondering if there was something folks could do to help out and get this information out to more people more quickly,” Benamy said.
So he got together with a few other like-minded folks, built a bare bones site “very quickly” and has spent the last two weeks working around the clock to add more and more data to the page.
Around two dozen volunteers — including one who pitched in after successfully using the site to schedule a vaccine appointment for his own grandfather — have since joined the effort.
“We just saw something that we could do to help,” Benamy said. “We’re all in this together.”