Helping People Find Covid-19 Vaccines Is Aim of C.D.C.-Backed Site

VaccineFinder.org is an ambitious but limited attempt to simplify Americans’ search for vaccines.

By Rebecca Robbins and Sheryl Gay Stolberg

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hoping to make it easier for Americans to find Covid-19 vaccines, is backing the test of a centralized online portal where the public can search for nearby vaccination locations with doses on hand.

The website, called VaccineFinder, is run by Boston Children’s Hospital with the help of several collaborators. It grew out of the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 and has been used for years to coordinate the distribution of flu and childhood vaccines. It expanded on Wednesday to include the availability of coronavirus vaccines at more than 20,000 locations, concentrated in several states.

If the program goes well, the website’s developers plan to expand it nationwide in coming weeks to include nearly all vaccine providers that agree to be featured. That would make the website far more comprehensive than anything that exists now.

“We’re trying to create a trusted site and bring some order to all this chaos and confusion around availability,” said John Brownstein, a Boston Children’s Hospital researcher who runs VaccineFinder.org.

The project is not a panacea. It will not enable people to book appointments; it simply directs people to other portals where they can try to register to get vaccinated.

Nor does the website address the key constraints — most notably the limited supply of vaccine doses — that are preventing more people from quickly getting shots. And there is a risk that the addition of yet another vaccine website will only exacerbate the current confusion.

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