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Who Are The Vaccine Hunters? Here's How They’re Helping Montrealers Find Appointments

During a key time in the fight against COVID-19, a group of volunteers is stepping up.
What Is Vaccine Hunters? Here's How It Helps Find Appointments

Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer is a Quebec contributor for Vaccine Hunters Canada, an online resource aiming to help the inoculation campaign against the deadly pandemic virus.

With Quebec beginning to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to the general population, he and his colleagues will be on the hunt to help us make sense of the appointment booking process.

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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.

Why did Gagnon-Voyer join Vaccine Hunters?

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.

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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."

"We are there to help"

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."