Now that COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada and the rollout has begun, the question on many minds is clear: “When will I be able to get the vaccine?”
The Vaccine Queue Calculator for Canada aims to answer just that.
Co-created by Jasmine Mah from Canada and Steve Wooding from the UK, developers from the Polish company Omni Calculator, the vaccine calculator relies on information from Canadian public health officials about vaccine distribution, combined with personal data to estimate when an individual might expect to receive their vaccine.
Wooding first worked on the calculator in the UK and sees its value not only as a way for people to find out when they might get vaccinated, but as a sort of expectation setting public health tool.
“When the vaccine came out and everybody was really excited … [they thought] ‘That's the end,’” Wooding told Global Citizen. “But no, actually it's just the beginning because, you know, it's going to take months to roll this out to everybody.”
And, of course, he’s correct.
In Canada, phases 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout targets people who are top priority and at risk: seniors, health care workers, long-term care residents, and adults in Indigenous communities. Phase 3 will see the start of vaccine administration for essentially everyone else, according to CBC.
So, if you’re an average citizen, it might be well into the summer before you’re vaccinated in the UK or Canada, Wooding noted — which is what you’ll find out by using the calculator.
“So some of it is just to try and set some expectations that you still have to take precautions,” he said.
Ideally it’ll help people understand how long they might have to wait for the vaccine and encourage them to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and continue to wash their hands frequently.
Omni’s site also has a FAQ section where people can find out more about the vaccine and its effects, which Wooding says can help fight misinformation, too.
He noted that the vaccine isn’t instantly effective — it takes a couple of weeks to build up immunity, which is something a user might learn on Omni’s site.
Wooding said that about 8.5 million people have used the online tool in the UK so far, and about another 875,000 in Canada.
He cautions that the estimates are all contingent on vaccine approvals, manufacturing, distribution, and delivery plans, though he says the team will be keeping an eye on changes and updating the tool as often as they can.
Omni plans to roll out calculators in different countries following the success in the UK and Canada.