Man creates made-in-Sask. vaccine locator available to anyone by text
Brock Lumbard wanted a centralized place where people could easily get information
A Regina man has created a made-in-Saskatchewan vaccine locator to help people find nearby doses.
Brock Lumbard isn't eligible for a vaccine yet, as he's in his early 20s, but he wanted to help others. He created a simple texting bot.
Anyone can text their postal code to 306-517-7062 and it will respond with info about nearby vaccine walk-in clinics, online booking or drive-thru clinics with availability.
Lumbard said he was inspired after seeing similar efforts in Ontario and British Columbia. He wanted Saskatchewan to have a free tool, but knew the coders wouldn't get to the Prairie province soon.
"I decided to hop on the opportunity and help out," he said. "It's not a terrible amount of work. It's seven to 10 hours of actually head-down writing code."
If you're in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Saskatchewan?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Saskatchewan</a> and looking for a vaccine soon, text 1-306-517-7062 with your postal code. I built a tool that will respond with nearby clinics, drive-thru centres and pharmacies that have availability. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GetVaccinatedSK?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GetVaccinatedSK</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StickItToCOVID?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StickItToCOVID</a> <a href="https://t.co/SYTlqnBySx">pic.twitter.com/SYTlqnBySx</a>—@b_lumbard
The province of Saskatchewan has a website to check wait times for walk-in clinics, a website to check wait times at drive-thru clinics, a list of pharmacies that are participating and an appointment booking system. Lumbard said it's not a bad system, but can be tough to navigate.
"One unified place, a really easy way to access it, would improve accessibility for a lot of people," Lumbard said. "There's always opportunities for young people who know technology pretty well to help out a little bit."
The web server bot runs on a simple programming language called Python. Lumbard said the bot is open source, so anyone interested can look at the code for free.
Around 940 people used it on Tuesday, the day it launched. Lumbard said there's been a really positive response so far.
"I really, really do hope that it helps a couple of people get vaccinated that wouldn't otherwise have been able to find a location or an appointment."
With files from Heather Morrison and Saskatoon Morning