The Vaccine Hunters use a number of digital tools to source information on available vaccine appointments from public health providers, pharmacists, clinics, and the public before sharing it on Twitter.
Gagnon-Voyer, who runs an e-commerce company when he's not volunteering, explained the group lets people know about available shots through a Twitter account and Discord platform.
"It feels great to make a small contribution to the effort," said Gagnon-Voyer.
"We often get messages from people when they need assistance and are unsure about the process. Then we hear back from them a few days later after they get vaccinated and they are very thankful. It always feels like a win."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
[CA] We are humbled by the amount of messages we receive from people across Canada who want to help out, so we've p… https://t.co/XJak3b9AgQ
Gagnon-Voyer joined the Vaccine Hunters after noting a lack of information on Quebec’s vaccine rollout on the organization’s accounts while trying to secure coronavirus vaccine appointments for his parents and in-laws, he said.
Not long after he began sending advice on Quebec’s vaccine rollout to the group’s founders, Gagnon-Voyer was offered a formal role.
"The interesting part is that I don't actually live in Quebec (I'm in Toronto) but I'm originally from Quebec City and always follow Quebec news so I have a good idea of what is happening," he said.
[QC] 45+ Montérégie - Boucherville - Rendez-vous disponibles DEMAIN pour AstraZeneca à Boucherville - New appointme… https://t.co/m0hhVrY3FW
People seem happier with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Quebec than in Ontario
As a Quebec contributor, his role is to share information about vaccine distribution in the province in both English and French on social media.
He also keeps track of announcements from local Centres intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) and shares tips he receives on the appointment process in different regions of Quebec.
"Our role in Quebec is more to help with sharing the news about walk-in clinics that are sometimes announced a bit last minute or not widely shared in the media, or just to tell people when new spots are available [on Clic Santé]," he continued.
Vaccine Hunters Canada began in Ontario after its founder became frustrated by the province’s sometimes complex vaccine booking process, but Quebecers have been happier with their vaccine rollout, he noted.
"Being based in Toronto but following Quebec news on vaccination, I can see that there is a world of difference between both provinces," said Gagnon-Voyer.
"Overall Quebec has a much better system [the Clic Santé platform] that helps to centralize the majority of vaccine appointments in the province, which makes things easier."
[QC] Montréal - Plateau - Centre de vaccination temporaire le 6 mai sur rendez-vous seulement au Centre Sablon - Te… https://t.co/1AZINfBCws
Since its foundation, Vaccine Hunters Canada has grown to dozens of contributors and a community of thousands "all doing what we can to get shots in arms," said Gagnon-Voyer.
"Our goal is just to help more people to figure out how to get a vaccine," he said.
"We aren't really there to criticize the politics behind it, we are there to help fill a need. We realized that there is a strong demand from Canadians to know where the next vaccine clinics are and if they fit within the list of criteria to get access to the vaccine, and we are there to help."
Thanks to a new integration, you can actually find vaccination centres as well as find and book vaccine appointments without leaving the Transit app. Yes, the same app that helps you plan trips on the STM and tells you when the next bus is coming.
When you're looking at the Transit app's map view, look for the little injection symbol to locate a vaccination site. Then you can either press "Get directions" or "Make appointment." Note that Transit only shows vaccination centres with appointments available in the next seven days.
The "Make appointment" button takes you to Vaxstat.ca, where you can pinpoint available appointments in the coming days. Vaxstat then sends you to the official Clic Santé portal, where you can confirm your eligibility and make an appointment.
Afterwards, you can simply go back to the main screen of the Transit app to get directions.
"I feel like when people realize, 'Hey, I can actually book an appointment today,' they will get vaccinated quicker, and we will be able to move down the line and get vaccinated sooner, and ease up the restrictions," Laget said.
Vaxstat has features similar to Clic Santé, Quebec's official vaccine booking website and it also uses Clic Santé data.
The key difference is that Laget's website allows users to view every Quebec vaccination site with same-day or next-day appointments all at once while Clic Santé only shows nearby available appointments within seven days.
"I saw tweets from people thanking me because they were able to quickly find an appointment same-day through Vaxstat instead of checking all the centres on Clic Santé one by one, and that's really rewarding," said Laget.
Vaxstat also offers a map view and shows just how many spots are available within a seven-day period as well as showing appointments that were lost because they were available but not taken.
Laget said the site has had over 568,000 page views since it launched on April 5, and approximately 200,000 unique visitors, with the "Find an appointment" feature being most used by visitors.
Premier François Legault announced that Montreal's 8 p.m. curfew would be reinstated as of April 11. While Quebec curfew exceptions range from emergencies to essential work and humanitarian travel, the province has added one more to its list.
According to the Quebec government's website, "a person who must go to or from a vaccination clinic" is permitted to be out of their home after 8:00 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., depending on the region in which they are located.
Evening vaccine appointments are reportedly set to launch in Quebec City on April 10.
Quebecers with vaccine appointments during curfew hours should carry proof they can show police on the way to their appointment, as well as confirmation of their second-dose appointment on the way home.