New Delhi: Chennai-based Berty Thomas, who works with an investment bank, tried booking a slot when the Covid-19 vaccine drive opened up for all adults across the country from 1 May. But he was unable to find one.
Thomas is among the thousand across the country who have been struggling to find a vaccination slot on Modi government’s CoWin portal or Aarogya Setu app — as the slots disappear as soon as they become available — and are taking to social media for registration-related queries.
This is where several tech companies and software developers such as Thomas have come to the rescue.
“Especially in big cities like Chennai, where there are multiple centres, it was difficult to keep going back to the website and check if any slots were open. So I thought of making a tool which could streamline the whole process,” Thomas told ThePrint.
Thomas then came up with under45.in, a website which alerts you about availability of vaccination slots via the Telegram app. The user needs to enter the state and district and an alert will pop up on the Telegram group when a slot is available.
“Currently there are 70 such groups and more than a lakh people are part of them — the largest one being of Bangalore which has 22,000 users. In the last seven days, the website has received over 2.5 lakh views”, Thomas said.
Thomas said he has created 6-7 Telegram groups for Delhi alone.
Also read: I had Covid, when should I get vaccine? What if I miss second dose? Answers to these & more
Like Thomas, Debarko De, an engineering manager, shared a script on GitHub — a code hosting and collaboration platform — to help people in Bengaluru find slots.
“Once the (CoWin) portal opened up, I realised that refreshing the page continuously was really a lot of effort so I thought to automate this. I automated it and got the slot in like 10-15 minutes. After my appointment, I thought that a lot of other people would also feel the same and hence I released the code on GitHub,” De told ThePrint.
It took De around 3-4 hours initially to finish the script which helped him get his vaccine appointment. After that, he spent some time cleaning up the code and publishing it and spent “an hour or two every day to modify the script”.
Another website, GetJab.in, co-created by four Mumbai-based software developers — Azhar Hussain, Shyam Sundar, Anurag Kishore and Akshay Nautiyal — provides email alerts to users looking for slots.
GetJab.in has around 1.2 lakh registered users as of now. Its co-founder Nautiyal told ThePrint that they shared the link of their website on all social media platforms and have received positive feedback so far.
Another app that notifies users when slots open is FindSlot.in, developed by Shubhendu Sharma, a Bengaluru-based software developer and founder of Wifi dabba, a low-cost internet service provider.
“I wanted a slot for myself. Nothing was available, so I used the open API to book one for myself, and later I created it for the use of larger public,” Sharma told ThePrint. It took him less than two hours to create the website.
Sharma, whose website has garnered more than 3,50,000 searches since 29 April, says his email inbox is filled with thank you messages. “It feels nice that I could help someone in the middle of the pandemic.”
It is not just independent software developers; large companies have also leveraged CoWin’s open API. One of them is the popular health and fitness app, HealthifyMe, which has launched Vaccinateme.in, that uses CoWin’s API to help people find vaccine slots. The platform also helps people to customise your search, on the basis of the city, cost of the dose, etc, and alerts are sent to them via WhatsApp.
India administered 16,48,76,248 total doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as of Thursday. Of these, 2,62,932 beneficiaries in the 18-44 years age group received their first dose and 11,64,076 beneficiaries got their second dose.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)
Also read: India sees sharp decline in Covid vaccination numbers though more people are eligible
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