Vaccine Hunters Canada wraps up day-to-day operations, founder teases 'announcement' ahead
TORONTO -- Vaccine Hunters Canada, the social media sensation responsible for helping thousands of Canadians get vaccinated against COVID-19, is wrapping up day-to-day social media operations Tuesday, as its creators focus on their consolidated website.
Originally created in March, Vaccine Hunters Canada quickly grew on social media, with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Discord. At its peak, Vaccine Hunters Canada had more than 400,000 followers on Twitter.
It was run entirely by volunteers, something founder and director of Vaccine Hunters Canada Andrew Young is extremely proud of.
“I feel like the biggest accomplishment, aside from getting eligible Canadians their vaccines, is our team,” Young said on CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday. “The story of a group of strangers, volunteers, coming together to help Canadians.”
Young founded the organization after attempting to book vaccine appointments for his mother and father in mid-March, when vaccines were scarce and information scattered. Seeing a U.S. site called “Vaccine Hunter.org” inspired him to make a Canadian version.
And while Young said the team doesn’t know how many Canadians his team helped, by his estimate, if every one of their 400,000 Twitter followers helped three friends or family members to book appointments – Vaccine Hunters Canada helped roughly 1.2 million people get inoculated.
“The website will become a central point, people can go to the “find your immunization” option or FYI for short, enter their postal code and it will return vaccine availability in nearby pharmacies,” Young explained.
“The second option is vaccine DIY or “do it yourself” – where you can find pop-up or walk in clinics across the country in each region,” he continued. “If you can’t find your vaccine through those two services, our third service is called “vaccine SOS” – you can submit a webform and fill it out with what you’re looking for (first or second dose) and our volunteers will respond to it with personalized advice and it will be sent to your email inbox.”
Young said the pay-it-forward spirit will continue throughout the organization’s next chapter.
The “Find your immunization” tool on their site is open-source, and was created by volunteer developers on the team, paving the way for other countries to use it in their own vaccine rollout.
Young hinted at a big announcement “in the coming days” with Ontario’s University Health Network, and said that his team had been in contact with the World Health Organization to see if they can assist other countries during the pandemic.