Race to get coronavirus vaccine going digital with ‘vaccine hunters’

vaccine hunting
vaccine hunting(vaccinehunter.org)
Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:34 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s open season for hunting, only if you look at it from a vaccine perspective...

The race to get vaccinated is now going digital.

Folks are turning to “vaccine hunter” pages on social media just to find available COVID-19 vaccines in their community.

Think of vaccine hunters as those people who stand outside a stadium, hoping for a last minute ticket. But instead of a seat inside, they’re wanting to get a shot, that may have otherwise been tossed out. That search starts online, like this Facebook group, called NOLA Vaccine Hunters.

“This is about preventing spare vaccines from ending up in the trash, and ensuring that all available vaccines get put into arms. Any arm is better than the trash,” said Brad Johnson, who created the ‘Nola Vaccine Hunters’ Facebook Group.

Johnson is a medical and public health student at Tulane University, and started the Facebook group, after the less than stellar vaccine rollout from the federal government, and the state of Louisiana.

“People are desperate for vaccines, and they are unable to find them. So people are posting where some of these spare doses are available, as the group has intended. I’ve also seen some people, a lot people go over state lines in to Mississippi.

The vaccines have a limited shelf life and have to be carefully stored. Early in the rollout, the state saw dozens of doses tossed out because they expired, or weren’t stored correctly. These groups hope to stop that waste.

“Really the goal is to find these points where we have these leftover vaccines, where somebody didn’t show up to their appointment, they have vaccines left over that can’t be re-introduced into the cold, and need to be put in someone’s arm,” said Doug Ward, who started the website VaccineHunter.org.

Doug created that website, after more than 20 Facebook groups popped up across the country just to find available vaccines in their communities.

“When they’re having troubles being able to locate and get appointments in order to get a vaccine, they’ll be able to reach out on to here. And say I’m having trouble, or even the opposite, they are able to find appointments available on the group,” said Ward.

Just like the Louisiana Department of Health’s website, VaccineHunter.org shows all the locations in your state where you can get a vaccine. But bottom line, these guys are hopeful for one thing when it comes to people getting the shots.

“For vaccines become more available to more people and everyone who wants one can get one,” said Johnson.

People in some of these groups have traveled to states outside the one they live in to get vaccinated.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, the qualification to get a COVID-19 vaccines are:

- Adults aged 65 and older. Adults in this age group can be vaccinated at any of our drive-through locations below, or at some private healthcare providers.

- Anyone 16 to 64 years old with a chronic health condition that may put them at higher risk from COVID-19.

But a spokesperson says it’s only, “If you live in Mississippi or work in Mississippi - You are eligible for a vaccine if you meet the criteria.”

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