'Even if it helps one person, it's a win.'
Co-creator Zain Manji told Narcity that over 75,000 texts have been sent so far and that plenty of people have already reached out to say they've booked an appointment after just sending a single text.
Using the service
Co-created by web/mobile developers Zain Manji and Ashish Yelekar, the free service takes information from Ontario's website and makes it accessible via a single text.
To use the service, Ontarians can text 1-833-356-1683 with their postal code, after which they'll receive a reply with two or three of the closest vaccination sites to them.
Manji said he and Yelekar were inspired to create the service by seeing a similar text service implemented by the White House in the United States.
They started the service on Friday night and were quickly inundated with texts.
"The SMS provider ... thought our number was spam!"
"Over the past 24 hours there's been over 75,000 texts," Manji said, who told Narcity that he and Yelekar had to call their SMS provider and explain that they weren't sending out spam.
"A bunch of people have been tweeting at us and DMing us," Manji added, "[saying that] they booked an appointment. And that was just alone amazing to see."
Manji and Yelekar are covering the cost of the service themselves, eating into their company's funds, but there's no sign of slowing down.
"We do want to open it up to B.C., Alberta all those other provinces, but we just need to make sure that Ontario is stable and working well," Manji said.
Partnering with the city
Manji said he's already started talking to the City of Toronto regarding a potential partnership between the two parties.
The City of Toronto has already partnered with Vaccine Hunters Canada to provide booking info for people in Toronto, but Manji said they haven't discussed any specific initiatives or details yet.
"We're just working through things with them to try to make sure that this is a sustainable app and keep helping people," he explained.
Manji said he couldn't judge the province's vaccine rollout plan without knowing all the behind-the-scenes details. Instead, he's just focused on his own service.
"We wish everyone was already vaccinated and everything was smooth," Manji said. "[But] instead of us waiting for that solution to come out, we might as well make the solution as best as we can and help people as much as we can, right?
"Even if it helps like one person it's a win."