Skeptics urge caution for vaccine information website’s use

A few short keystrokes could provide a quick path to an often-asked question: Where can I get a coronavirus vaccination shot?

"It’s a place where you can go to find where you can get vaccinated near you," said Manish Goregaokar.

He is one of a team of 260 people behind the week-old website

Gorgaokar said the team does the legwork for the masses concerning COVID-19 vaccinations, then puts the information on its free website.

"It was a lot of people with various skills, just coming together and just really building things, really quickly. It took two days to get the basic systems up," said Goregaokar.

Once on the homepage, a user can scroll through California’s five regions, ultimately landing on the information that’s pertinent to them. Location, address, and time and date of last reported vaccination information is listed. Organizers said the goal is to make the vaccination location search easier, so people don’t get frustrated, and stop looking.

"We wanted to make it better. We want people to get vaccines as quickly as possible. And if we can publish information that helps them get the vaccine, we think that’s helping them get it as quickly as possible," said Goregaokar.

San Jose State University biotechnologist Dr. Mark Schwartz said while web information can look like a silver bullet, it can also be a Trojan Horse.

"The web runs the gamut from very accurate, robust information that can be hard to collate, to absolutely erroneous and out-and-out lies," said Dr. Schwartz. "I would say use caution. They may have a better mouse trap and it might be very worthwhile information. But there is a risk."

Dr. Schwartz and others recommend verifying information found on private websites with local or state websites. The California Department of Public Health declined comment on the vaccinateca website. The department instead points to the launch of state websites in the coming days which will notify people of their eligibility to receive the shots.