PITTSBURGH, PA (KDKA) - The race to find a COVID-19 vaccine continues for many families across our area. Children and grandchildren are calling and searching the internet for elderly loved ones.
"Pandemonium is the only way I can describe it. We are doing it by age because there are so many people on the list," said Samantha Pitzarella, the director of pharmacy at Asti's South Hills Pharmacy.
The issue for many people is finding that coveted dose, but three Pennsylvania college students are taking on the challenge.
"Just placing the same phone calls to the same places asking the same questions about availability -- but we are just doing that once, updating over time and making that centrally available," said Seth Rubinstein, a law student in Philadelphia.
Two weeks ago, Rubinstein, along with two University of Pitt students, built and launched the website www.vaccinatepa.org.
With a team of volunteers, they gather the data you need and can't find on the state's website: Does this provider have the vaccine? Is there a waitlist? How do I get on it? Where do I make an appointment?
"Every time I make a call and tell the hospital or pharmacy this is what we are doing, they are always super pumped because they are getting flooded by calls, so if we could decrease that by 50 percent, it would make a huge impact," said Pitt student Zhengming (Ming) Wang.
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Those providers KDKA talked to agree. Any help to free up the staff is welcomed.
"It really is a time labor-intensive. We have dedicated a lot of our own personal time to handling and managing this," Pitzarella said.
So what prompts a group of college students to take on such a big task between class and homework?
"One of the things I've always loved about software engineering and computer science is you can make a huge impact from just sitting at your desk. And being in these quarantine times, I'm not even in Pittsburgh right now, I'm at home. Being able to make a large impact from my desk is quite an awesome experience," said Pitt student Richey Goulazian.
The success of the project depends on the number of people willing to help. Right now the team is made up of five to ten volunteers and the creators are seeking more help.
If you are interested in volunteering to make calls, reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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