December 2020 brought significant change, particularly as COVID-19 began spreading throughout the United States. Americans faced lockdowns, with millions catching the deadly virus. As the virus continued to spread, the promise of a vaccine left many feeling hopeful, desperately wanting protection. When the COVID-19 vaccines came to market in 2021, stipulations and conditions met with a turbulent rollout. Many stipulations were placed on the vaccine development, seriously restricting initial access. Government officials offered the initial doses to the vulnerable and immunocompromised populations to prioritize those at the highest risk for complications. Many eligible Americans were left behind, struggling to find available appointments and facing long lines and vaccine shortages.
Although these initial difficulties were complicated, they were compounded by the short shelf life of cold storage vaccines and complex sign-up requirements.
Difficulties Booking Appointments Online
The initial vaccine rollout was tailored to at-risk populations and seniors, causing an influx of appointments. As people desperately wanted some protection against the COVID-19 virus, many resorted to waiting in line for hours and logging into computers throughout the night in hopes of securing an elusive appointment time. Most of the elderly population struggled to navigate the newly designed online portals, requiring younger family members to assist.
Detrimental Vaccine Scarcity
All situations deteriorated further when clinics considered the vaccine’s strict storage and usage requirements in the rollout schedules. Anyone trying to book a vaccine was taking multiple appointment slots, leading to double booking and unaccounted-for appointments with different providers. Recent studies estimate nearly 30% of all COVID-19 vaccine appointments were canceled or no-show appointments. Unfortunately, these timeslots resulted in wasted vaccines, a heartbreaking consideration for anyone trying to secure the jab.
Vaccine Waste Issues
Anyone administering the covid vaccine had to follow strict requirements to maintain the stability of the medication. The cold storage vaccine required specific temperature regulations for transportation and adequate time to thaw before dilution. All thawed vaccines had to be used within particular timeframes. The clinic would determine vaccine quantities based on the scheduled appointments, preparing doses ahead of time. All schedules helped ensure everyone had a vaccine for the position they had previously booked online.
Before Dr. B, clinics resorted to administering surplus vaccines to anyone nearby. Extra doses included all no-show appointments, last-minute cancelations, and other miscalculations. Anyone previously registered with a facility that didn’t show up for the appointment time contributed to the daily excess.
How the Platform Helped Fight COVID-19
The website’s founder, Cyrus Massoumi, understood the substantial gaps in vaccine deployment, mainly concerning vaccine waste and expiration time. He understood the difficulty clinics were facing with vaccine shortages yet continued noticing vaccine surplus throughout the clinics. Massoumi identified a critical opening in the healthcare industry; a desire to streamline the vaccination process, connecting eligible patients with surplus vaccines.
Dr. B’s platform was simple; interested individuals would register through the website if they wanted the COVID-19 vaccine. Registered providers could report extra doses directly through the platform, with the number of amounts and expiration time. An automated text notification was sent when a facility had extra doses within the same geographic location as a patient.
What Made COVID-19 Dangerous?
The virus that causes COVID-19 wasn’t the deadliest, but it was more complicated than the seasonal flu. Researchers also didn’t have enough accurate information to determine the probability of death from the viral infection, especially when many cases went unreported. As COVID-19 rapidly progressed, the lack of immunity caused critical concern among health experts. The virus spreads through the upper airway, with the infection spreading from sneezes, coughs, huffing, and puffing. Occasionally, the virus spreads through loud talking. Unfortunately, many people spread the virus days before they felt any symptoms (with a few remaining asymptomatic).
Many experts noticed that mortality increased with age, with the highest fatality rate among people over 70. Obesity and other chronic conditions also played a significant factor in severe infection. Finally, scientists have shown that men are more likely to die from COVID-19 than women.
Watching the Website’s Plan in Action
The launch of Dr. B’s standby list was intentional, with Massoumi approaching underserved communities first before the public. The founder wanted to offer an equal chance at immunization, hypothetically connecting more at-risk populations to a vaccine during a significant shortage. As the website’s popularity grew, more than 2.5 million users registered online throughout the year.
Providers quickly recognized the unique opportunity, with nearly 750 different locations jumping on board. The website used complex, automated algorithms to notify eligible individuals. The vaccines often required immediate administration due to the expiration schedule.
Working Through the Notification Process
Anyone wanting to register with Dr. B could complete the application online. Registrations include the name, address, phone number, and current medical information. After the registration, the platform’s algorithm automatically prioritizes patients according to risk factors, position within the appropriate risk group, and current state legislation. Massoumi’s website prioritized anyone with pre-existing medical conditions or old age.
When a vaccine became available within a patient’s geographic area, the website sent an automated text message to the applicant. Once received, the individual could confirm the appointment time or decline. The algorithm put anyone declining the vaccine at the back of their priority section.
Dr. B Successfully Fought COVID-19
The campaign was largely successful in connecting eligible individuals with surplus vaccinations. As the vaccine availability improved, Massoumi closed the registration process. Toward the end of the campaign, Dr. B sent over a million notifications through the platform. As vaccine scarcity persisted, Dr. B connected unvaccinated Americans with surplus doses. When facing uncertainty, Dr. B used technology to benefit the lives of many.