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

Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue workers and emergency personnel set up a command centre on Friday evening. It took KHSAR to find a lost hiker who veered off-course near Campbell Lake west of Harrison Hot Springs, finding them about 380 metres off-trai and escorted them safely to the trailhead. (Photo/Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue)
Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue guides lost hiker home

Hiker ended up almost 400 metres off-course as darkness fell on May 7

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

Coho smolts. (Tanis Grower photo)
OPINION: A giant, invisible problem for Fraser salmon and how to fix it

‘Successful examples of salmon-friendly flood control can already be found throughout the Lower Mainland’

Members of the Miami River Streamkeepers Society released 5,000 chum salmon fry into the Miami River on April 28. This is part of an ongoing effort to preserve and support local aquatic wildlife. (Photo/Janne Perrin)
Students and streamkeepers release salmon fry into local waterways

Agassiz Christian students have been raising salmon since January as part of class program

Chilliwack volunteer drivers are needed to help get cancer patients back and forth to Abbotsford (shown here), Surrey and Vancouver cancer clinics. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Volunteer drivers needed to expand cancer driver program to Chilliwack

Drivers will need to commit to one full day of driving, or two half days each week

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

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Most Read