At a time, when “unprecedented” became the most over-used word of 2020, the world waited in anticipation for a COVID-19 vaccine. By December of that same year, not one but three different vaccines were approved and procured in Canada. The shots-in-arms “roll-out” began, and mass confusion and frustration ensued. Here in Ontario, residents were directed to register online, by age and health groups, with Ontario Health. Then on an announced day, much like getting tickets to Adelle or The Biebs, you had to be among the lucky first in line to vie for limited vaccine appointments at a city-run clinics. Alternatively, you could try to snag an appointment at various pharmacies, which meant registering on a half-dozen different websites. To both the technically astute and technophobes alike, it was vaccine chaos!
As someone who lives with a chronic disease and is on immunosuppression therapies, I was anxious to get my shot and qualified in the early months. I registered at every possible location and waited anxiously to be called upon. And waited. And waited. Scrolling Facebook one afternoon, I saw a post in our local community group stating that one of the big-chain drug stores close by was taking reservations by telephone. (Apparently, the online system that people had registered on wasn’t even working.) I immediately called and booked a spot for a few days later. Of course, I then I told some friends who did the same. Thank you, Facebook!
In the weeks that followed, it became clear word-of-mouth was the best tool to finding vaccine availability. And who has the largest, word-of-mouth network? Social media of course. This is where Vaccine Hunters Canada was born. Led by Andrew Young who was trying to book vaccinations for his parents, Vaccine Hunters are a group of 100 plus volunteers who stepped up to help get Canadians vaccinated against COVID-19.
Largely through the Twitter following they built (283,000 followers) along with other popular platforms; Discord, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, the volunteers at Vaccine Hunters gathered vaccine appointment information from clinics and pharmacies across Ontario and worked tirelessly to share it and help Canadians get vaccinated.
Almost a year later with 83.6% of all people, 5 years + in Ontario who have received at least two doses, we have the power of social media and Vaccine Hunters to thank for the “unprecedented” assist.
How did your vaccine appointments go down? Did you hit any obstacles or was it a smooth shot? Drop a comment below.
Twitter: @VaxHuntersCan stepped up to help thousands of Canadians find vaccine appointments. #COVID19ON #VHCON https://tinyurl.com/bsrnychb
Facebook: @vaxhunterscan volunteers worked tirelessly to get shots-in-arms when government websites led to mass disappointment. https://tinyurl.com/bsrnychb