VaccineFinder.org makes it easy to figure out where to get a COVID-19 vaccination

Castlight, the CDC and Boston Children's Hospital built a national map that shows where stocks are high and where they are low.

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Castlight, Boston Children's Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention track COVID-19 vaccine availability in real time on a site that usually monitors supplies of childhood and other immunizations.

Image: VaccineFinder.org

Now that more Americans are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, the challenge is finding one. Healthcare navigation company Castlight, Boston Children's Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have revamped an existing vaccine tracking site to focus exclusively on COVID-19 vaccinations.

VaccineFinder.org has three search parameters: type of vaccine (Moderna COVID Vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID Vaccine or Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID Vaccine), ZIP code, and distance from the shot location. Search results show a map that includes all locations, a list of sites and addresses, and most crucially, which sites have vaccines available. The site is open to the general public as well as Castlight customers.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Castlight works with health insurance plans and self-insured employers to help members and employees find the right kind of care at the right time. Castlight's navigation services include general wellness and mental healthcare. Castlight contracts with companies that provide these navigation services to employees.

Dr. Dena Bravata, an internist and chief medical officer at Castlight, said the COVID-19 pandemic created many healthcare navigation issues that have changed over time. Castlight's first offering was a national testing registry.

"Our data supports Google searches, Apple searches, testing finders for numerous public and state health departments and a couple large city health departments as well," she said.

This data collection around testing sites led to the current project— a vaccine finder. Bravata describes this work as helping with the last mile of COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The Castlight database tracks how many vaccine doses each vaccine site has in stock at the end of each day.

"With this provider portal, the doctors and other healthcare providers come in every night and report to the CDC how many doses remain," she said.

Healthcare providers around the country use the site. About 100,000 providers use the site 95% had shared data within the last 24 hours during the first week of March, Bravata said.

"We have the reporting dashboard and CDC sees that in real time how many doses are in Tampa and in which locations," she said.

Previously, Castlight worked with the CDC and Boston Children's Hospital to run Vaccinefinder.org. This site normally tracks the availability of numerous vaccines such as the flu or a tetanus shot. Those services have been suspended for the moment to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines.

Castlight uses that same inventory information to help people find a vaccine in their area.

Bravata said that the site also addresses vaccine hesitancy by providing information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines as well as what to expect before and after getting a shot. Bravata said that each Castlight customer is setting their own policies about vaccine requirements. The company set up a COVID-19 customer council last year with about 20 employers participating. 

Bravata said that her company can help employers provide COVID-19 resources, including any incentives that an employer might decide to offer to encourage vaccination or tracking how many people get the shot.

"We do a great deal of reporting back to our customers but it is at the population level," she said.

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