If you’re not elderly, an essential worker, or a person with specific health issues, it might be unclear when you’ll be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in L.A. County. People impatient to get their shots have already been sussing out ways to expedite the process, particularly by finagling leftover doses, those that will be tossed if a clinic can’t quickly find an arm to poke.
A new site called Dr. B purports to make connecting people with those illusive leftover doses a little more streamlined by adding people to a virtual waiting list and texting them when a dose is available in their zip code. According to a ticker on the site, upward of 750,000 have signed up for Dr. B’s waiting list, submitting basic info like their date of birth, zip code, and profession.
Of course, providers also have to register if they want to participate. So far, only two vaccine sites are providing shots through the system, one in Queens, New York, and one in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the company tells the Verge that more than 200 vax sites in 30 states have expressed interest. A spokesperson for Dr. B tells Los Angeles, the program isn’t live in California yet, but that 46 providers in California are “in the pipeline at the moment.”
Ethical concerns and inequities have been thematic throughout the vaccine rollout, and a handful rear their heads here. For instance, while the website takes into account local rules about things like underlying health issues to prioritize those with the most need, it also requires those who sign up to respond within 15 minutes and quickly report to the vaccination site. That means people who don’t have the luxury of being able to leave work at the drop of a hat would miss out.
Also, as The New York Times points out, Dr. B is a for-profit enterprise that collects personal info, but it’s not currently clear what the business model is, or what happens to them once the vaccination effort is complete.
After joining Dr. B, waitlisters receive a text confirming their signup and letting them know how many people signed up before them. The only thing left to do? Hurry up and wait.
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