DENVER (CBS4) – Over the next month, millions of Coloradans will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. There are several resources available to help with signing up, but many still struggle to make an appointment. Gov. Jared Polis informed Coloradans of a new Twitter account designed to connect people to vaccine resources: @COVaxAlerts.
In a tweet posted Thursday, Polis wrote: "@JaredPolis: Thank you to David Witten, who has family age 65+ in Denver/Aurora, and made this Twitter account @COvaxalerts to help them and others learn about and set up appointments to receive the highly effective and safe vaccine."
Polis praised @COVaxAlerts again during a news conference Friday, "There's several great folks that have put together automated ways to look at this. I've linked a COVID Vaccine Finder. There's also a great, new Twitter account. It's @COVaxAlerts. You can sign up and get every vaccine alert in Colorado every few moments,"
David Witten, the creator of @COVaxAlerts, is a 20-year-old college student. He started programming in 9th grade and now studies programming at Stanford University. Before he created the account, Witten was looking for ways to help his family in Colorado.
"My relatives in Denver told me it was difficult for them to get vaccinated. This is my uncle and aunt who are both above 65. It was really important for me to help them get vaccinated," said Witten. "Last weekend, I sat down and I made a website to allow people to find vaccines in Colorado. It turned out a website like this already existed and honestly was better than mine. I quickly changed to just making a Twitter bot that would notify users directly."
In days, @COVaxAlerts gained over 1,800 followers. With the help of an internet bot, the account posts vaccine openings every minute of the day. Witten encourages Twitter follows to turn on their notifications for the account, so they'll learn of new vaccine slots the minute they become available.
"Rather than waiting on a website for one slot to open and everyone racing to sign up, it comes directly to them. They know the clinic to go to. They know the address. They know the URL immediately. They don't have to wait around on a website," said Witten.
@COVaxAlerts has gotten more popular since Polis shared the account with Coloradans. A tweet listing an open slot posted two minutes ago could already be full, especially as more people become eligible.
"I'm always actively developing it. I'm working on adding new clinics in Colorado. I'm working on potentially trying new states, but that's maybe further in the future. For now, I really just want to make sure it works well," said Witten. "It's such a rewarding experience and I'm really excited to continue working on it."
Witten says the inspirations behind this project include TurboVax, a service that notifies New York City residents of vaccine appointments, and a creative from his home state of Maryland.
To learn about Colorado's latest vaccine openings, follow @COVaxAlerts on Twitter.
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