London

Vaccine Hunters Canada winds down as vaccine supply increases and need dwindles

After six months of helping people find the next available COVID-19 vaccine appointment, Vaccine Hunters Canada is signing off. The social media account amassed nearly half a million followers by posting updates about pharmacy openings and walk-in clinics. 

The volunteer group worked to get needles into arms for six months

Dr. Taylor Rice helped people find COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Vaccine Hunters Canada. (Submitted by Taylor Rice)

After six months of helping people find the next available COVID-19 vaccine appointment, Vaccine Hunters Canada is calling it a day.

The social media account amassed nearly half a million followers by posting updates about pharmacy openings and walk-in clinics. 

"Through July, as vaccine supply became greater and greater, the main goal of finding appointments for individuals has been reached for now," said volunteer Dr. Taylor Rice. The second-year resident in family medicine estimates he booked 50 appointments for people in London, Ont., and hundreds more online. 

"Many pharmacists in London who are listening right now might recognize my voice from calling them repeatedly," he told London Morning guest host Allison Devereaux.

Filling a gap in vaccine bookings

Rice estimates that Vaccine Hunters Canada helped about two million Canadians find a vaccine. Volunteers posted updates on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Nextdoor and Discord. 

"I think everyone was a bit frustrated that it was difficult to find the vaccines," said Rice. "We wished there was a centralized system for booking."

In a statement, the organization said it's pivoting to a tool allowing people to find their own appointments. 

Helping to address vaccine hesitancy

Dr. Rice volunteered for about twenty hours a week, also serving as a health care expert on the Discord platform, answering questions about vaccine hesitancy and safety.

Vaccine-hesitant people he spoke with were on a spectrum, from people who are slightly anxious to those who have been led toward misinformation and conspiracies.

He's reminding people who are hesitant to contact their primary care provider or visit Vax Facts through Scarborough Health Network, where doctors are standing by.

"In the end," he said, "I think most people want to protect themselves."

The social media account "Vaccine Hunters Canada" helped to connect available appointments with Canadians seeking their COVID-19 jabs. After six months, their work is done and Vaccine Hunter volunteer Taylor Rice tells London Morning how it went.

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