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Frustrated By Kansas City’s COVID Response, A 27-Year-Old Created A Twitter Bot For Vaccine Sign-Ups

Kansas City software engineer Peter Carnesciali realized that a system he created to notify himself about COVID-19 vaccines could help others too.
Peter Carnesciali
Kansas City software engineer Peter Carnesciali realized that a system he created to notify himself about COVID-19 vaccines could help others too.

An app created over the course of a long weekend has already connected some Kansas City residents with needed vaccines.

With more COVID-19 vaccines in the offing but supplies still limited, health experts and people seeking vaccines have been frustrated by the lack of a coordinated response.

To help the growing number of vaccine-eligible people urgently working to track down doses, a 27-year-old software engineer created his own solution to connect them with vaccines.

On Tuesday, Kansas City resident Peter Carnesciali launched a Twitter account to alert people when vaccines become available in their area using a computer app he built in his time off from work.

Carnesciali says he was inspired to create KC Vaccine Watch after signing on to numerous systems created by different health departments and pharmacies.

“I definitely think it can be confusing for people how you can sign up with Kansas City, you can sign up with Jackson County, you can sign up with the state of Missouri,” Carnesciali says. “This isn’t a substitute for those, but it is a way that might help people get it even faster.”

Although he set out to create a notification system for himself, he quickly realized its larger potential.

“I had an idea that this could let me know when appointments become available, so then I was like, other people might like to know also,” Carnesciali says.

Starting last Friday evening, he spent about 15 to 20 hours building KC Vaccine Watch, a project he describes as "fun." It's available for anyone to follow on Twitter. While it currently only tracks vaccine offerings at Hy-Vee locations, he plans to add additional pharmacies and other locations as they become available.

KC Vaccine Watch has already been used by members of a friend’s church to make appointments.

Carnesciali says he was particularly moved by a message he received about one congregant who used it to get vaccinated so she could see her husband, who was recently admitted to hospice care.

“It’s pretty crazy to see an impact like that,” Carnesciali says.

He acknowledges that his project will still leave many gaps unfilled, particularly for people who have limited internet access or skills.

Still, KC Vaccine Watch has attracted hundreds of followers and Carnesciali is inviting other software engineers to help him to update and maintain the open-sourced project.

He says he has no plans to charge or accept donations to support the work.

“Everyone can do their part to stop the spread and save lives and get back to normal,” Carnesciali says.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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