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

Surrey RCMP detachment. (Contributed file photo)
Surrey RCMP investigating 2 ‘suspicious’ house fires in Newton

Incident happened at 5:11 a.m., Sunday morning

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

(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’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read