Online COVID-19 vaccine locators prepare for influx in users once eligibility opens to all adults April 15

More than 3.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have gone into the arms of people across Washington state. More than 1.2 million doses have been given out in King County alone, with 27 percent of residents fully vaccinated.

However, for some people, finding an appointment has not been easy. As the state prepares to open up vaccines to all adults on April 15, getting a spot in line will be a bit tougher.

CovidWA is an all-in-one vaccine locator to help people navigate availability closest to their home. The online tool launched in February. It was created by software developers who volunteer their time to help people eliminate hours of searching through hundreds of websites.

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"Since we started we’ve had 800,000 unique people come to the site, which considering the population of Washington is substantial," said Daniel Morris, CovidWA co-founder.

With more than seven million views, CovidWA’s numbers are about to spike even higher once all adults 16 and older will be eligible to register for the vaccine.

"When the last eligibility group opened up at the end of March, our users basically tripled in a day. Everybody came to the site, everybody wants to get involved, everybody wants their vaccine right now. I expect to see something similar come April 15," said Morris.

Since vaccine demand is already higher than supply, CovidWA updated its services to help people stay informed about availability.

"They just text their zip code to the COVID WA number and when availably appears near them, they’ll get a text saying hey this has popped up. They can just go straight to the link and book there," said Morris.

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"CovidWA website traffic tripled with the expansion of eligibility. We knew those millions of newly eligible people would find it even more challenging to make an appointment. Our new alert system makes it faster and easier to find and schedule vaccine appointments," said co-founder George Hu.

CovidWA checks more than 850 clinics every five minutes to the most up-to-the-minute schedule information. Appointments - as they become available - will also be posted on the group’s Twitter page.

The Washington State Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator is also a tool to use when searching for an appointment. Dan Laster is the director of the DOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Action Command and Coordination System (VACCS) Center. He said their Vaccine Locator site is already seeing an uptick in numbers.

"Just in the last week over 740,000 Washingtonians accessed the site and what that really enable Washingtonians to do is put in their zip code and see the closest location," said Laster.

DOH is also encouraging people to check Vaccine Finder. It’s run by the federal government and lists providers that receive vaccines directly from the federal government, like pharmacies that get vaccines through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

While vaccine supply will be the biggest hurdle to cross as people try to register, Morris it will soon be worth the wait.

"Folks don’t give up, there is a way out of this. Summer is looking good. SO let’s all keep working towards that," said Morris.

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