FILE – Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

FILE – Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Looking for the nearest COVID shot? Tech entrepreneur creates texting software in B.C

Zain Manji says app took just one or two hours to create

Are you looking for the nearest pharmacy offering up COVID-19 vaccines in your neighbourhood?

Thanks to a Canadian engineer, there’s no need to look far. Zain Manji, a tennis player and co-founder of technology firm Lazer, created a texting service that allows British Columbians to look up their nearest pharmacy with just their postal code.

“I came across a tweet from someone in the U.S. who was talking about an app or a phone number that the White House created where you can text that phone number and get the three closest vaccination sites for you,” Manji told Black Press Media by phone Tuesday (May 4) morning.

“And I just kind of asked myself, Oh, is this in Canada? Or is this Ontario? And then we realized it wasn’t.”

He and Lazer co-founder Ashish Yelekar realized it wouldn’t take long to build such an app – just one to two hours. And so the idea was born.

“So we just built it and which is also with the hopes that someone would use it and hopefully find a vaccine appointment,” Manji said.

And it’s been a success, both in Ontario where it was first launched and now in B.C.

“We’ve gotten a bunch of messages so far, across both provinces, actually, where people have been able to book an appointment because of the tool and also be able to join a waitlist that they didn’t know that they could join, because of the tool.”

While the ease with which Manji and Yelekar created the app raises questions as to why it didn’t exist before – Manji said that”honestly, it’s a super simple app. It’s literally like less than 100 lines of code” – the engineer is just glad it’s helping Canadians get vaccinated.

The app uses publicly available data in B.C., gleaned from the BC Pharmacy Association, but Manji said he would be happy to work with the province to provide more data.

Next on Manji’s list is Alberta, which has seen record high COVID cases in recent days.

“We’re hoping Alberta can be launched either like today or tomorrow, depending on the outcome of our work today.”

To find out where your nearest pharmacies providing COVID-19 vaccines are, text 1 (833) 356-1683 with your postal code. Availability will depend on the pharmacy, but people ages 40 and up are able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine at participating locations all across B.C., while people ages 30 and up can get it in some COVID hot spots.

Whether you’ve gotten your first dose at a pharmacy or through the age-based system, the B.C. government is asking everyone to register at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca vaccine can be given to adults 30 and older, NACI recommends

READ MORE: B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

British ColumbiaCoronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

An example of one the sounding boards the RDOS has set up to gather feedback for their first parks, trails and recreation master plan. (RDOS)
Looking for feedback from Princeton and Keremeos for park and rec plan

Sounding boards have been set up in both regions for in-person input

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Kelowna seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
Accessibility concerns raised as Kelowna ponders banning vehicles from Knox Mountain

Knox Mountain Drive, which leads to two lookouts, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began

Upgrades will be completed on a portion of the Kettle Valley Railway trail north of Penticton. (Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen photo)
Contract awarded for improvements to trail near Penticton

Portion of Kettle Valley Railway trail will receive upgrades

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
People aged 30+ in Summerland, Rutland offered vaccine amid high transmission risk

Interior Health offers residents of Rutland and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Most Read