OHIO — Americans keep hearing large quantities of the COVID-19 vaccine are on their way, promised by both legislators and pharmaceutical companies. Still, most vaccine providers warn of low quantities and high interest, which explains why so many people said they’ve tried numerous times to make appointments to no avail.

What You Need To Know

  • Nationally, Dr. B is a free national database that pairs people with vaccinations via zip code

  • Three women in Oxford, Ohio launched the “Jab Me Oxford” volunteer effort to help people find vaccine appointments

  • In the Cleveland area, two women known as the “Vaccine Queens” joined forces to help more than 700 people get vaccinated
  • With nearly 2,500 members, Ohio Vaccine Hunters on Facebook encourages everyone to participate so they can share information to help everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine

It’s no wonder people are getting creative in trying to track down the elusive COVID-19 vaccine, and in doing so, they’re reaching out to help others get vaccinated as well.

Dr. B

Dr. B is a free waitlist that’s attracting the attention of would-be vaccine recipients around the nation. 

Dr. B’s founder is Cyrus Massoumi, an entrepreneur with an interest in public health, while Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, serves as Dr. B’s advisor.

Touting itself as “the standby list for leftover COVID vaccines,” Dr. B’s mission is “to make access to care, specifically the COVID vaccine, more efficient and more equitable,” the website reads.

As the website says, things happen: People forget appointments, vials contain extra doses and with both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine, everything in the vial must be used within six hours once it’s opened.

That means there are unused vaccine doses everywhere, and as of Thursday, March 11, more than 1.4 million have signed up for a chance to get one.

Dr. B works with vaccine providers around the country, so unused vaccines could be available in any zip code. Your sign-up position is not your position in line. There could be only a handful of people also signed up in your zip code.

Here’s how to sign up:

  • Go to the Dr. B website
  • Fill out your name and age and receive a verification code on your mobile
  • Enter that and answer a couple of questions about your health and occupation
  • Hit submit and you’re on the list

If a shot comes available in your zip code, you’ll receive a text and you’ll need to respond quickly.

Once confirmed, you’ll get the provider's address and information. When you arrive at the location, tell them Dr. B sent you.

Jab Me Oxford

In Oxford, Ohio, near Cincinnati, a trio of women took matters into their own hands.

Retired nurse Sarah Pace began helping others early on after realizing many friends and family members were either mystified as to how to get the vaccination, between words or they had no Internet access.

In the meantime, nurse practitioner Michele Ittle, Pace’s former co-worker, was posting information daily on social media, helping guide people to vaccine resources.

The women decided to band together, recruiting their friend Jennifer Hale.

The result was “Jab Me Oxford,” a Facebook page with timely information and tips on signing up, and a centralized portal for people to have their questions answered.

With more than 200 people active on the site, the women said, so far, they have managed to help everyone who wants a vaccine to get one. And many of those people are now paying it forward by helping others, the women said.

Vaccine Queens

At the top of the state, two northeast Ohio women launched a similar enterprise.

Like Pace and friends in Oxford, Stacey Bene and Marla Zwinggi started out working independently, helping others who either couldn’t find an appointment or lacked the Internet skills to do so.

Bene, a Medina resident, was working mostly with seniors, while Zwinggi, of Chagrin Falls, started out helping her dad and branched out from there.

Eventually, they joined forces becoming known as the “Vaccine Queens.”

To share their knowledge, the women launched a Facebook live session to explain their tricks and tips, such as refreshing your browser window while searching, and checking into vaccine sites at neighboring communities with smaller populations.  

The women often put in up to 12 hours a day responding to questions and looking for appointments.

To date, the Vaccine Queens have helped connect more than 700 people to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ohio Vaccine Hunters

One large and growing Facebook group has become a clearinghouse of COVID-19 vaccine information.

Open to all, Ohio Vaccine Hunters was launched Feb. 12 and now has nearly 2,500 members and averages roughly 80 new posts per day.

Operating on the premise that the extreme cold storage needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could result in unused doses at multiple locations on multiple days, the site administrators aim to match people with those doses.

“We aim to connect distribution sites that have expiring doses with willing, mobile people who are ready to rush over to get their shot,” site administrators wrote. “Also, this is a place to help people currently qualified to find appointment openings and new vaccination sites.”

Also, administrators encourage everyone to contribute from offering useful links to asking, or answering questions, all participants are credited with the success when even one person gets vaccinated through info from the site.

Pro tip: Ohio Vaccine Hunters encourages people to call their local vaccine distributors about 15 minutes before closing to find out if they have any lingering doses.