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Leftover COVID vaccines: Website will alert you when nearby clinics have extra doses going to waste

People are looking to get vaccinated, and clinics are looking to keep expiring COVID vaccines out of the trash.

HOUSTON — The hunt for the coronavirus vaccine has led many to search for leftover doses that would otherwise get thrown away.

Why would doses get thrown away?

Leftover vaccines happen when a provider thaws out doses and must use them within a set amount of time. They sometimes don’t get used because the people scheduled to take them simply didn’t show up for their appointments.

Scenarios like this have led to some lucky people, who just happen to be on hand, getting their coronavirus vaccine to the doses don't go to waste.

Here’s a quick look at some of the ways people are trying to track down these extra COVID vaccine doses — even if they aren’t eligible under their state’s current distribution guidelines (like 1A/1B in Texas).

The "Dr. B" website will alert you when nearby clinics have extra doses

A startup company, recently featured in the New York Times and USA Today, is trying to use tech to hook people up with these extra doses. The website called Dr. B matches vaccine providers with a waitlist of people who want them. As of Tuesday evening, nearly a million people had signed up for alerts from the service. 

You don’t have to be in a certain profession, age, eligibility group, etc. to sign up. You need a mobile phone and basic internet. Give the service your name, email, phone number and ZIP code — and they will alert you if doses are going bad near you.

On the web: visit Dr. B

(When signing up, they also will ask if you have health issues or work in a vulnerable profession — something they consider before offering you a vaccine.) If you get an alert, you’ll have 15 minutes to respond to the message and confirm that you can get to the vaccination site.

The site claims it takes privacy and security seriously — "Our team has decades of experience building HIPAA-compliant healthcare systems that handle sensitive information, and all patient data is encrypted in transit and at rest."

Dr. B says it will soon be teamed up with 200 vaccination sites across 30 states. Its creator says he named the site after his father, and he currently has no plans to try and make money off it. In fact, he first tried to spread word of the service in vulnerable communities that are greater need of getting the vaccine. He also created a way for people to help those without a phone or internet also sign up for the alerts.

Vaccine hunter Facebook groups

This phenomenon of limited vaccines has led to the creation of “vaccine hunters.” These are people on social media trading info on where and when leftover doses might be handed out. Vaccine hunter Facebook groups have tens of thousands of members — all sharing tips.

Some just show up at the end of the day

While this method isn’t recommended, because people should limit how much they gather during the pandemic, some people say they have found success in getting their vaccination just by going to places that administer them (or calling them). Sometimes, at the end of the day, those with the vaccines will make calls or simply grab whoever is around to get the vaccines in someone’s arm before they go bad. Note that most, if not all, vaccination sites nationwide are currently by appointment only — whether it be a mass vaccination site like Houston’s NRG Park or a smaller place like a CVS clinic.

Also watch: Some people are jumping the eligibility line to get a vaccine