Vaccine Spotter Shutdown
Hello, world! I wanted to let you all know that Vaccine Spotter will be shutting down on September 23, 2021. Please visit Vaccines.gov for vaccine availability. And if you're not already vaccinated, please consider getting vaccinated if you're able to. ❤️
This shutdown is probably overdue, so apologies for any confusion this site has caused in recent months while I've not been actively maintaining it. I've just been procrastinating and lazy in figuring out these shutdown plans and announcing this.
I realize COVID-19 is still unfortunately affecting a lot of people, but vaccine appointment availability does not seem like it's been the biggest barrier in the US for a little while now, so that's why it feels past due to wind this site down and point people to better maintained resources, like Vaccines.gov.
Vaccine Spotter's open source code will remain available if it's of any interest or use. A static version of the APIs and data downloads will also remain available for some period of time if you're interested in historical analysis, but the data will not be updated after September 23 and I will eventually take these down as well.
Because I'm a nerd, I also wanted to share a bit of statistics on Vaccine Spotter's usage and growth as I wrap things up. It's hard to say how many people actually benefited from the site, but hopefully it helped a few people out!
- History: Started coding February 9; launched February 16 covering the Colorado area; expanded to US-wide on February 24; ended up scanning 40,000+ pharmacy locations.
- 5 million unique users.
- 54 million page views.
- At its highest peak, on a single day (April 5): 300,000 unique users, 2 million page views, and 10,000 concurrent users viewing the site.
Raw Traffic: Because I also focused on openly sharing the underlying
data I gathered via APIs for other programmers out there, I know other
websites, applications, and bots were able to leverage the Vaccine
Spotter data and expand its reach. I didn't specifically gather API
analytics, but some of the raw traffic perhaps gives a sense of how
the underlying data was used:
- 622 million requests served.
- 13 million unique IP addresses served.
- 36 TB of traffic served.
- 2,500 personal e-mails received.
I also wanted to thank all of the individuals that contributed money to help offset my direct hosting costs and allow me to donate the rest to charity. For full transparency, I wanted to provide an update on how much I raised, my costs, and how much I was able to donate.
- $6,970 raised from 361 individuals.
- $1,492 used in direct server/hosting costs. This is higher than I would have liked, but I wasn't paying attention early on, so some costs definitely snuck up on me. I finally got things cleaned up and to a point where the costs for the past several months have been pretty minimal, but I really appreciate all the contributions so I didn't have to pay this out of pocket.
- $5,478 donated to charities (split evenly between UNICEF's and Direct Relief's COVID-19 efforts).
There are a multitude of people I should be thanking. I know I'll forget tons of people, but I'll at least try to thank some groups.
- First and foremost, thank you to all the health care workers that are saving people's lives, making these vaccines, administering them, and everyone else involved. Vaccine Spotter was only one very tiny piece of this large puzzle. I hope the website helped some people, but there are a lot of other people out there doing more important work with COVID-19.
- Thank you to everyone that helped share this tool. Without all of you, this tool wouldn't have had such and impact. On day 1—when I was clueless as to how to share my creation—Redditors, Governor Polis, and the local news all really helped get the word out, so thank you! From there, thank you to all of the news media (large and small) that picked it up and helped promote the tool, and thank you to every individual that shared it by word of mouth (I know there were a lot of you)!
- Thank you to my workplace and coworkers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for being extremely supportive of these efforts. They helped come up with the idea, helped test it, provided feedback and ideas, and were hugely supportive and awesome when this project unexpectedly grew so quickly.
- Thank you to everyone in the "scraping" community. I was initially inspired by some similar efforts in other parts of the country, but after launching Vaccine Spotter, I stumbled into a fantastic community of other coders across the country working to solve these issues in a variety of ways. Thank all of you for your collaboration, selflessness, and dedication to helping people!
- Thank you to the open source community that contributed in ways large and small to the open source Vaccine Spotter code base. I know the code was messy, undocumented, and I wasn't always the best steward of the open source code, but thank you for your patience and contributions!
- Thank you to everyone in federal, state, and local governments that helped with the broader vaccination efforts in all sorts of ways. I know you all had a ton on your plate, so I'm glad the tool or data could be used by some of you. I also really appreciate the help and support the CDC, HHS, USDS, and other agencies offered in getting better access to data, and for your forward-thinking efforts to define standards to make this easier in the future.
- Thank you to all the volunteers of various organizations that helped people find appointments. I'm happy Vaccine Spotter could be a useful tool for you all (and stories of some of you using the tool to find hundreds of appointments kept me motivated), but you all were doing great work to actually help individuals get appointments that might have otherwise been struggling with the technology.
- Thank you to other developers out there that built other tools, bots, and apps using the Vaccine Spotter data, since that enabled us all to help more people.
- Thank you to a company (that wanted to remain anonymous) who helped cover the expenses of some more expensive proxy services that allowed for some workarounds in accessing some of the pharmacy websites. Thanks for your collaboration!
- Thank you to pharmacies for vaccinating everyone and your hard work on your own websites, which is what allowed tools like this to exist.
- Thank you to thousands of people that personally emailed me with success stories, feedback, ideas, bug reports, and nice things to say (or sometimes not nice things to say 🙂). I sadly wasn't able to respond to most of these, but I read them all, so thank you for making the website better and sharing words of encouragement.
- Thank you to my family for helping vote on the "Vaccine Spotter" name and to Beth for your support and dealing with the many, many long nights/mornings I spent obsessed with trying to improve the tool.
- Thank you to everyone who has gotten vaccinated!
Building this website has been an unexpected adventure. I know the tool was far from perfect, but I just hope it sometimes helped people find appointments. From here, I just hope things continue to get better.