Initiating in December 2020, Americans patiently awaited the arrival of a vaccine for the Coronavirus. The vaccine promised protection against the lethal virus currently plaguing the world. Unfortunately, the vaccine’s launch was problematic and troubling, leaving many qualified individuals struggling to locate a clinic with available appointments. Those clinics with available appointments were met with extensive lineups and difficulty booking. While the first wave of the pandemic saw millions of infections, supply issues increased panic and fear. These issues were expedited due to the short shelf life of the vaccine, sending unused vaccines into the trash due to cancelations and expiration.
Trouble Booking Vaccine Appointments
Unfortunately, the vaccine rollout was turbulent – starting with seniors and at-risk populations. As surges in appointments barred countless people from booking an appointment, many were left scrambling. Initial reports indicate that thousands of people were waking before dawn and logging into computers to try and secure an appointment. Those unsuccessful were left standing in line, hoping to fill a cancelation or no-show vaccine. Unfortunately, many people were left without a position as the time slots filled faster than pages could load. Elderly populations were left excluded from many online requirements, falling on younger family members for assistance.
Appointment difficulties continued as vaccine distribution lacked proper cancelation procedures. Many individuals scrambled to book any vaccine appointment they could secure, double booking timeslots in hopes of finding an early appointment time. Most of these individuals simply didn’t cancel the appointments, leaving nearly 30% of all vaccine appointments unavailable for others. For those cancelations, systems didn’t exist for those needing a shot but unable to acquire a time. Clinics unable to keep up were left with hundreds of vaccines resulting in excessive waste.
Excessive Waste with Discarded Vaccines
With cold storage vaccine development, medical professionals must uphold strict storage requirements for proper efficiency and stability. These requirements include specific transportation temperatures, appropriate thawing methods, and adequate dilution methods. In addition, most clinics need to plan adequate dose schedules ahead of time to stick with the vaccine schedule.
After thawing the vaccine or puncturing the vial, medical professionals need to use the entire bottle within a specific time window. Most often, this time frame is within hours of opening. Unfortunately, most facilities base the vaccine schedule on pre-booked appointment slots (accounting for all no-shows and cancellations that ultimately occur. Vaccine surplus exists when individuals need to cancel the appointment or simply don’t stick to their previously arranged schedule. To account for the vaccine surplus, a facility has two choices: find someone to fill the appointment or dispose of the vaccine doses at the end of the day.
How Dr. B Filled the Vaccine Void
Before Dr. B’s service, clinics often tried to find people for the canceled appointments. Typically, this was proximity-based, finding individuals available at the location. Doctors and pharmacists solicit shoppers and consumers in the site, offering the opening to anyone waiting. This method proved ineffective, leaving many vaccines expiring.
Creator, Cyrus Massoumi, noticed an opening in the medical industry regarding vaccine protocol. He believed the lack of a cancelation system within the pandemic created an issue for Americans trying to get their vaccine. Cancelations and surplus should be going to those who need a vaccine instead of being thrown out or discarded.
Developed in early 2021, Massoumi hoped to fill that void through the new waitlist platform. His idea was simple—anyone registering with the database would receive notifications for clinics with surplus vaccines available in their geographical area. Pharmacies and clinics would update the platform with the daily supply, hoping to fill vacant appointments.
Making the Connections Through Technology
Dr. B is simple, users join the database and enter basic contact information. These details include name, contact details, geographical location, pre-existing medical conditions, and employment. After registering, the algorithm will determine where an individual falls on the priority sequencing. Should a clinic or facility reach out to Dr. B with availability, users receive a text message of the appointment.
All sequencing accounts for government requirements and stipulations, conditions, and other prerequisites. Registered users on the platform were categorized by priority, needs, and accessibility – putting high-risk individuals above the general public.
Reaching Vulnerable Communities
At site launch, news spread relatively slow in the early phases. This intentional release worked with communities of color to spread awareness to those needing help with getting vaccinated. These communities included Latino-Hispanic, Indigenous, and Black communities often facing issues receiving medical care.
Eventually, the platform’s popularity grew exponentially, with nearly 2.5 million users registering online for vaccine information. Providers were quick to join as well—over 750 different clinics, spread across 44 states in the United States reported their facility. The unprecedented success sent out over a million vaccine notifications throughout the pandemic and prompted abundant news coverage with dozens of Dr. B review articles springing up.
Understanding The Vaccine Confirmation Process
Eligible individuals on Dr. B’s website received a text message if a vaccine was available in their geographical area. The potential candidate then had fifteen minutes to confirm the available appointment time. If the individual confirmed the appointment within the allotted time, vaccines were given the same day. If the candidate declined the vaccine, Dr. B would contact another individual.
Next Steps for Dr. B
The Coronavirus changed how healthcare services operate, highlighting vulnerabilities that previously didn’t exist. By applying successful models through the pandemic into more extensive modeling, Massoumi hopes to facilitate other missions in the future. As the company continues to move forward, Dr.B plans on arranging other similar models for the healthcare system.
Watching the vaccine dysfunction in the early phase brought forward many discrepancies in how the community-acquired valuable resources. For some, persistence and dedication proved successful. For others, the gross inequality in the United States through socioeconomic factors became glaring hurdles. Combined with unequal distribution, many individuals were left struggling to find openings and availability. Proper management of an otherwise broken system can connect those needing extra assistance with a plan that minimizes waste.
Proper management is a critical component of valuable resources in the United States. While the initial phase of vaccine distribution was fraught with errors, it highlights how simple changes to distribution can make significant improvements overall.