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How to sign up for expiring COVID vaccines before they’re tossed

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People who want the COVID-19 vaccine but aren’t yet eligible, or just can’t find an appointment, can now sign up for unused doses that would otherwise be thrown out or given away randomly — through a new standby service set to roll out across the US. 

The service, dubbed Dr. B and created by the founder of medical-booking service ZocDoc, is aiming to ensure no precious jabs ever go to waste by connecting people with providers that have unused doses before they expire and prioritizing those that need it most.  

“Vaccine sites all over the country have experienced patients that were canceling or not showing up for their vaccine appointments 20 to 30 percent of the time and what that resulted in was some vaccines going to waste,” creator Cyrus Massoumi told The Post. 

In the worst-case scenarios, vaccines have been thrown away. But other times, they are doled out at random, like to someone “waiting in line to buy potato chips at the pharmacy” or to friends of vaccine providers, Massoumi said. 

So far, Dr. B has launched pilot programs at two vaccine distribution sites — one in Arkansas and one in Queens that started last week — and at least 200 providers in 30 states are on the waitlist. 

“Multiple new sites” in the Big Apple are set to start using the service this week, Massoumi said. 

While those who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine can get access through Dr. B, the website functions to prioritize the neediest first

The first three New Yorkers to use the service were all people in prioritized groups that are eligible but couldn’t secure an appointment on their own — a nurse who didn’t work for a large health system, a Spanish speaker over the age of 65 and another healthcare worker, the founder said. 

When signing up for the service, people are asked to input their age, zip code, occupation and any pre-existing health conditions that could lead to a severe case of COVID-19. 

When a provider tells the system they have unused doses, it uses algorithms to first alert people who are at the highest priority in that specific geographic area — such as healthcare workers or the elderly — that there is a vaccine available. 

Depending on how quickly the doses are set to expire, Dr. B patients are sometimes given just 15 minutes to accept a shot before it’s offered to someone further down the line. If no one in the eligible groups accepts, people who aren’t yet eligible can snag the slot. 

Cyrus Massoumi, the founder of the company Dr. B.
Cyrus Massoumi, the founder of the company Dr. B.
Courtesy of Cyrus Massoumi

“The system is designed to make sure no vaccine gets wasted,” Massoumi said, adding the site’s various algorithms are “dynamic based on the amount of time the vaccine has left” and optimized to prioritize the most needy. 

Jimmy Chion, Dr. B’s head of patient product, said the service makes it easier for providers to find arms for the unused shots and ensures they aren’t being distributed at random when there are leftovers.

“We’ve seen providers that have manual lists… they have a  sheet of paper and they’re calling numbers from that sheet of paper [to ask people if they want the shot] so already our system simplifies that process by being able to notify a lot of people at once by just clicking a few things and pushing a few buttons,” the engineer said. 

“Our goal is to essentially create a centralized list so there’s always demand for these doses that are about to expire and to ease the burden off of providers who want to make sure every dose goes into someone’s arm.”

More than half a million nationwide people have signed up for the service. 

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