Dr. B Vaccine List: How Does it Work & Does it Help People?
By Space Coast Daily // December 19, 2021
While the initial chaos of the vaccine rollout started less than ideally, it seems one platform was working to connect individuals in need to vaccines set to expire. The website, known as Dr. B, is a standby list for the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals could register anywhere within the United States and receive a notification when a vaccine became available in their geographical location.
While the platform was slow to roll out initially, it quickly skyrocketed in popularity as the vaccine quantities diminished.
Who is Dr. B?
Dr. B was named after the creator’s maternal grandfather, a beloved doctor nicknamed “Dr. Bubba.” Massoumi’s grandfather was a physician in 1918, during the Spanish Flu. The website initially catered to individuals left behind in the vaccination process, especially those underserved communities early on.
Many community leaders were approached from “all walks of life” to help connect scarce commodities to those who needed them most.
How does the Website Work?
Massoumi initially launched the Dr. B vaccine list in January 2021. The goal was to provide extra vaccinations for individuals still needing the jab. Users interested in joining the standby list were required to enter their name, medical risk factors, contact details, and place of employment in the registration.
Once registered, the site’s algorithm ranked the user’s attributes according to the priority status. This ranking was per current state and local restrictions.
Providers interested in joining could connect with the platform free of charge. In the clinic, any excess vaccines are uploaded to the website, including the number of available doses and expected expiry of the vaccine. The platform’s algorithm arranges potential contacts within the geographical area.
The website considers any risk factors and sends a text message to people matching the criteria. Users receiving the text message have limited time to confirm the appointment, depending on their availability.
How a Standby System is Helping Vaccine Distribution
Studies have shown nearly 30% of all vaccine appointments end up as a no-show or last-minute cancelation. As vaccines must be used within a specific time frame, the extra doses become wasted if they aren’t used. In other words, those scheduled vaccines not used throughout the day would otherwise end up in the garbage. Using a standby list gives those doses potential use instead of being discarded.
Why are Vaccines Available?
While there are plenty of cancelations in clinics and medical offices, there are other reasons for vaccine surplus. These might include no-shows, double booking, or miscalculating the number of appointments. Any vaccine removed from cold storage begins a countdown before expiry, especially if the vial is punctured.
By creating a standby list, those individuals within close physical proximity can use the dose, despite government restrictions. Massoumi believes that it’s important to get vaccines into the arms of interested parties, regardless of the prioritization status (should qualified individuals not be available for the dose).
Who pays for the website?
Throughout the website’s launch, all financial backing of the platform has been out-of-pocket from the founder, Massoumi. Dr. B is currently free for all US citizens, with access remaining the site’s focus. Likewise, providers can register for the provider list free of charge, increasing accessibility to all communities. The creator does indicate that a few financial supports have come forward from the initial launch, helping to expand their reach further.
How Many People Have Registered?
In the website’s early launch, creator Massoumi’s desire wasn’t a media sensation. He catered to at-risk communities, quietly advertising to Indigenous and colored communities.
His hope, he stated, was to connect many at-risk communities who typically face medical barriers with vaccine availability. As popularity climbed, major news networks picked up on the concept.
As of today’s date, over two and a half million people have subscribed to Dr. B’s standby list. These candidates covered the entire United States, with all risk categories included. Providers were available in 44 different states, with virtually all clinic types available. Medical facilities, vaccine clinics, supermarkets, and pharmacies around the United States have registered over time.
Drawbacks of the Platform
While the website connects people needing the covid vaccine, some argue for classist availability. Unfortunately, the last-minute opportunity has many scrambling to vaccine sites. Depending on employment, many on the list cannot leave work to get to the clinic.
Additionally, the requirement of needing a cell phone or internet connection can be an invisible barrier to the most vulnerable community members, such as seniors or those with financial limitations.
Dr. B recognized these limitations and encouraged a client arrangement with other community members. “Clients” aren’t exclusively those within the medical community; they can include anyone needing assistance and people willing to connect them to the standby service.
For example, a senior resident with mobility issues might have a relative as the contact for the list. With this functionality, the website has considered all system limitations, continuing to offer services without internet or cell phones.
Has Dr. B Helped People?
Dr. B has connected over one million people with the available COVID-19 vaccine within a year of launching. Where private clinics were once left scrambling to find available people for canceled doses, Dr. B removed the legwork for many.
These one million doses could have potentially ended up discarded, especially when cancellations and no-shows happened daily.
Dr. B Connected Over a Million People with Lifesaving Vaccines
It’s safe to say that the website’s functionality connected those wanting the vaccine to available providers within their area.
Within less than a calendar year, 44 states joined the fight against covid, particularly when vaccines weren’t readily available to the community. Although the availability has dramatically improved, the platform was arguably a significant supporter of vaccine distribution overall.