A Wharton MBA for Executives student launched FindAShot.org, a website that allows users to check the availability of COVID-19 vaccine appointments at pharmacies across the United States.
Users must input their zip code, select their state, or enable location services and FindAShot automatically finds available appointments, a list of local vaccine providers, and statewide eligibility guidelines. In Pennsylvania, the service connects users with appointments at CVS, Giant Eagle, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, and Weis.
David Newell came up with the idea for the website after his parents had difficulty finding vaccine appointments in Texas when they became eligible in December 2020. Many states do not have registries that notify eligible vaccine recipients when and where appointments are available, forcing people to scour multiple individual websites to secure a single appointment.
“People are becoming eligible to get it, but they just can’t find where to get it,” Newell said. “We try to bring all of that information together in just three clicks.”
Newell added that he even received an email from an elderly couple in North Carolina, who sent him all of their personal information because they didn’t know the proper channels to go through to secure a vaccine appointment.
“They were in that desperate need to find a shot,” he said.
Newell also hopes that FindAShot will help make sure all available vaccine doses are used, coining the hashtag “#LeaveNoAppointmentBehind,” to spread awareness about his website on social media. Some vaccine distribution centers have had to throw out doses because they expire shortly after they are taken out of cold storage.
Wharton professor Gad Allon, who Newell has gone to for advice about FindAShot, said he believes that Newell’s website can help solve problems with the country's vaccine distribution effort.
“It’s a good idea. What [Newell] is doing can potentially eliminate some of the issues where [pharmacies] actually have excess capacity initially and will have to throw them away,” Allon said.
Some vaccine providers such as Albertsons, ACME’s parent company, and Kroger currently block FindAShot from aggregating appointment data from their websites, but Newell said he has been working to increase the number of locations available on the website.
Wharton MBA second-year Nancy Farah, who works for Walmart eCommerce, helped connect Newell to Walmart’s pharmacy group to add the company’s appointments to FindAShot.
“I think David has definitely been solving a real pain point and leveraging connections and creating press to get the word out,” Farah said. “It’s inspiring to see a fellow classmate notice that it’s difficult to find a vaccine appointment during a pandemic and then roll up his sleeves to build a solution himself.”
FindAShot currently receives more than 2,000 new users every week.
“If [users] find an appointment and they never come back, it’s a good thing,” Newell said. “If [FindAShot.org] is obsolete in four months that means we are doing a really good job getting people vaccinated across the country.”