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

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
NTC president calls for ‘massive change’ after Indigenous woman shot by police in Hitacu

“We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities”

Hotel Zed Tofino has won a Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Award. (Westerly file photo)
Hotel Zed Tofino wins commercial building award

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board holds virtual gala.

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

Most Read