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Software Engineer Builds A Simpler Mass. Vaccine Website While On Maternity Leave05:38
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Fenway's scoreboard turned over to designate its use as a mass vaccination site, as seen on Jan. 27. (Courtesy Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox)
Fenway's scoreboard turned over to designate its use as a mass vaccination site, as seen on Jan. 27. (Courtesy Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox)

When trouble arises, some people stay on the sidelines and gripe. That’s not the Olivia Adams approach. The 28-year-old Arlington resident noticed complaints about the user-unfriendly system for booking a COVID-19 vaccination appointment in Massachusetts, and she leapt into the fray. She had a hunch she could address some of the struggles experienced by people in the 75-year-old-and-up contingent, and the friends and relatives trying to help them.

The result? Adams has developed her own website where people can find available appointments in Massachusetts, all on one page. She’s making it available for anyone to access.

The site has not been approved or endorsed by the state and Adams said as of now, her site offers information on just a few locations.

Adams applied her can-do spirit to this project while on maternity leave from her job as a software developer at Athenahealth — the electronic health record company that develops software for medical offices. She said she started her COVID-19 vaccination project after her mother-in-law had difficulty finding an appointment online.

Olivia Adams, 28, developed her own website where people can find available appointments in Massachusetts. (Courtesy of Olivia Adams)
Olivia Adams, 28, developed her own website where people can find available appointments in Massachusetts. (Courtesy of Olivia Adams)

"So I took a peek and looked at what resources were available and realized that there was a real need to have a centralized location," Adams said.

Adams worked on her project over the past three weeks, interspersed with taking care of her infant son and his two-year-old brother. She says she lucked out — the baby is a good sleeper.

"Basically what my website does is every five minutes it goes through some code I wrote that accesses different websites...to just kind of look and see what it's currently displaying for appointment availability. And it returns that information to my website so I can show it all together in one location."

Adams said the web development was challenging, because there is "no concentrated effort on how to build these websites technically that allow them to talk to each other."

At a news conference Friday afternoon, a reporter told Governor Charlie Baker about Adams' site and asked him if the state would consider implementing a similar program.

Baker responded, "Send us her name, we'll talk to her."

Adams said when her site went live this week, she reached out to the Massachusetts Health and Human Services department. She has not yet been contacted by the state, much less the governor. However, Adams said, she would definitely "love to collaborate."

"So I took a peek and looked at what resources were available and realized that there was a real need to have a centralized location."

Olivia Adams

She also suggested other people with relevant skills try their hand at improvements.

“I think a lot of people are not encouraged to kind of make those DIY solutions and publicize them because they don't think that they're super useful,” Adams said. “And I think the biggest lesson I've learned...is that we should never doubt that. And we should always push our projects and see who needs them because it's going to be more [people] than we think.”

This segment aired on February 6, 2021.

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