How a 28-year-old mother could revolutionize COVID-19 vaccine adoption in a state

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Olivia Adams, a software developer from Arlington, Massachusetts, casually revolutionized her state’s online COVID-19 vaccination system.

After hearing complaints about the unfriendly system for booking appointments, she decided to take control of the problem, using the skills she already gained from working at Athenahealth, an electronic health record company that makes software for Doctor’s offices had developed.

Adams felt she could alleviate some of the stresses faced by many of the elderly in the state, as well as the friends and relatives who tried to help them.

She worked on the project for three weeks and achieved remarkable results, although she was also responsible for her newborn son and two-year-old brother.

The 28-year-old mother was able to set up a website where people can find available Massachusetts dates on one page. Despite her experience in the field, there has been a learning curve as she has never built her own website.

I had a lovely meeting today with two members of the MA Coronavirus Command Center. They’re planning to launch a website like mine, which they signed up this week, and we’re keeping the channels open for collaboration. #covidma #vaccinerollout

– Olivia Adams (@livgust) February 9, 2021

Adams was originally inspired to take on this endeavor after her mother-in-law struggled to find an appointment online through the existing system.

“So I took a look at what resources were available and realized that it was really necessary to have a central location,” she told WBUR.

According to Adams, what sets her website apart is that the availability of appointments updates every five minutes through a code she writes that allows access to different websites.

“This information is returned to my website so I can view it all in one place,” said Adams.

Olivia Adams created a vaccine website for Massachusetts while on maternity leave.

“I was amazed how decentralized everything was and how there were a thousand different websites … I thought how can I use my software skills to improve this in my spare time?” Pic.twitter.com/ eVa7SL2PTm

– New Day (@NewDay) February 8, 2021

She said the web development process is strenuous as no “concentrated effort” is made to actually make these websites so that they can communicate with each other.

As a result, she had to build it from scratch.

At a news conference on Friday, February 5, a reporter briefed Governor Charlie Baker through Adams’ website and asked if the state would consider implementing a similar program for Massachusetts residents.

In response, Baker said, “Send us your name and we’ll speak to her.”

Adams has not yet heard from state officials, despite reaching out to the state’s health and welfare department. Adams says she is open and willing to work together.

Two Massachusetts State officials, Rep. Mike Conmolly and Rep. Jay Livingstone, took note of Adams’ initiative. They were so impressed that they sent a joint letter on Saturday, February 6, asking Baker to support their work and embed their design into the state’s official vaccination planning agency. Conmolly called Adams “the vaccine hero we’ve all been waiting for”.

Rep. @JayLivingstone and I are sending this letter to Governor Baker asking him to support the work of @livgust and to include the functionality that she demonstrated on the state vaccination planning website. We will invite our colleagues to sign up for this letter … pic.twitter.com/tfU8z60GHO

– Mike Connolly (@MikeConnollyMA) February 6, 2021

Adams also suggested that other people with relevant skills should help make the system easier and more accessible for everyone as the pandemic progresses.

“I think a lot of people are not being encouraged to develop and publish these DIY solutions because they don’t think they’re very useful. And I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that we should never doubt it. And we should always push our projects forward and see who needs them because there will be more [people] than we think, “said Adams.

While she enjoyed creating the vaccination registration website, Adam mentioned that it is “kind of crazy” how many people have turned to her to tell her this is exactly what the state is up to would have liked.

Adam’s maternity leave is about to end, but she has started something bigger than an appearance on a maternity leave.

When she has time, Adams plans to add a feature to the website that will allow users to sign up for email updates as more vaccine appointments become available in their area.

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