UW graduate helps run Vaccine Hunters Canada Twitter account
KITCHENER -- A Twitter account run by volunteers is helping eliminate any possible barriers for Canadians looking to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
Ontario’s vaccine rollout may be underway, but some say finding an appointment slot can be difficult.
“The provincial website and the Region of Waterloo just direct you to other places, lots of Google searches, and following from one website to the next with not really any results or clear information of where to get vaccines,” said Katie Gauthier.
Gauthier, a Waterloo resident, searched for weeks and was unable to secure a shot for her mom until her friend told her about Vaccine Hunters Canada on Twitter.
“It’s not an overload of information, if you know the specific requirements you’re looking for, it’s all there,” she said.
The account helps eligible Canadians figure out where and when they can get the shot.
“We were following it for a week and then I saw the one about Kitchener-Waterloo specifically, so we were able to book both of our parents’ appointments.”
Her mother, who is over 55, was able to get vaccinated last Saturday.
“Honestly, I felt a tremendous welling of hope,” said Rhonda Gauthier, who received the vaccine.
Gauthier says after sharing the Twitter account with friends and family, they too have now booked appointments.
“I want to help as many people as possible and really that’s what the whole organization is about,” said Joshua Kalpin, Vaccine Hunters Canada
Kalpin is a University of Waterloo graduate and one of the volunteers behind the Twitter account. He helps centralize information from public health units, hospitals, and tips.
“Most of our information is crowdsourced so we get it from Twitter mentions, from direct messages,” explained Kalpin.
As of Tuesday, the account had over 87,000 followers and Kalpin estimates the account has helped tens of thousands of people so far.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph's medical officer of health recommending those who may be confused to contact them.
“Region of Waterloo and us, we have our own systems, so check our website and how to register and get an appointment with us and if you’re in our area and you’re not sure, you can always call us,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer.
But Rhonda says the Twitter account is much more user friendly than the public health website.
“It’s easy to navigate and it’s simplified. You have the appointment bookings right there.”
Kalpin urges Canadians to do their part and help one another get vaccinated.
“Especially those who are at risk, may not be at the best of using computers or English is not their first language.”