Website developer helps people find vaccination appointments

Do-it-yourself approach gaining some momentum

THANKS TO THE  ingenuity of a software developer on maternity leave, the state may be improving its public website for scheduling COVID-19 vaccines.

Olivia Adams, 28, developed her own website, which assembles vaccine appointment slots from multiple sources into a single, one-click spot where people 75 and over can sign up to get the shot.

“My mother-in-law was having trouble booking an appointment for her vaccine, and then had the same trouble when she was trying to get her father vaccinated,” wrote Adams on her website. “I kept hearing the same frustrations over and over – from family, from friends, and on the news. The sign-up process was too confusing, too disjointed.”

As an Athenahealth software developer on leave, she had the skills to try to resolve the issue, so she launched a free, user-friendly site on February 5.

Information is gathered through web-scraping tools from the state’s vaccine site, maimmunizations.org, as well as websites for the Hannaford supermarket chain, UMass Amherst, Springfield’s Eastfield Mall, Danvers’ Doubletree Hotel, and Arlington’s Family Practice Group.

“The response was more than I could have imagined. Clearly this website is filling a serious void needed for the residents of the Commonwealth,” wrote Adams.

Adams reached out to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services about her website last week, but didn’t hear back until a reporter with NBC10 Boston asked the governor about it on Friday. A call is scheduled for later this week.

Adams is fundraising on GoFundMe to supplement the costs of hosting and developing the site, and has pulled in $24,000 of a $50,000 goal so far.

“After spending hours and days trying to find an appointment, your link enabled me to schedule within less than 10 minutes,” wrote Pamela Giovannini on the GoFundMe page. “I think the state of Massachusetts should reimburse you as well.”

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Freelance reporter, Formerly worked for CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Another man said he’s been trying to get his 83-year-old father-in law an appointment since the state launched its site. It only took five minutes on Adams’ site, said Glenn Fiore, and he was able to find a slot for next week.

Adams is not the only one taking a do-it-yourself approach to fixing the crunch for finding vaccination appointments. The Boston Globe reported that another group is providing some friendly competition to Adams by launching another website helping people locate appointments.