SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Issues with getting a COVID vaccination shot continue to plague people who are eager to put the virus behind them.
"When I try to book a shot for myself and my wife at Santa Clara County, it said that they were available. I spent about 15 minutes filling out the form, only to find they weren’t available," said Larry Magid, a tech industry expert and the CEO of ConnectSafely.
His frustration, and that felt by others, has reached Washington. Federal health officials are trying to vaccinate over 300,000,000 Americans by the end of July.
"The last time we tried to do anything like this in the United States is when we tried to vaccinate people for polio. And that’s a long time ago," said San Jose State University strategic management professor Dr. Robert Chapman Wood.
The polio vaccine became wildly available in 1955 when the US population was around 159,000,000 people, fewer than it is now.
The Biden administration announced it will leverage the expertise of the tech industry to smooth out rough spots, and speed up vaccinations.
"We are consulting with many companies, including Amazon, about specific ways they can help execute the president’s national strategy against COVID," said White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz. "Companies with logistics and technical expertise could help Americans get vaccinated more efficiently and more equitably."
In addition to Amazon, the administration is targeting Airbnb in hopes the company would use some of its real estate as "vaccination depots" across the country. In a statement, the company said the depots would be available in areas considered "healthcare desserts."
Google could be used to provide free advertisement space for public health messages. And perhaps travel sites such as Expedia could be used to schedule appointments for vaccinations.
"Those are possibilities. The key question is going to be, who’s really running this? And how good are they going to be at running it?," said Wood.
A third question is how equitable will distribution be with tech in the mix. Big tech has long had the perception of being the playground of the influential and affluent. Many ask, would that sway who gets dibs on shots.
"I think it’s a good idea for tech to help. But I also think it’s important that we think about people who are not tech-savvy and don’t have access to broadband or equipment. And they need to be served to," said Magid.
He said there needs to be a program of inclusiveness for all, not just all who live and die by tech.
Previous efforts to galvanize the power fell flat under the Trump administration. Anxious eyes in Washington and in Silicon Valley, now look to see if a new presidency will garner new results.