Surplus Vaccine Signup - is this legit?
March 9, 2021 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone vouch for this surplus vaccination waitlist: I've done some very basic checking by searching for some of the principals and haven't found any problems. The site is mentioned in the Times and some other legitimate press. I ask because they require one's birth date and some general health and employment information.
posted by donpardo to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if it's legit, but I signed up today and can at least tell you about that. It asks for your general occupation (e.g., software, law, accounting, education) but it does not ask for a specific employer or anything like that. It asks for a cell phone, your name, your birthday, your zip, your general employment field, and it gives a bunch of check-boxes for preexisting conditions that you can check. I used a fake birthday with the year somewhere near my real year to at least give me a fig leaf that I am not signing up for pure identity theft. I figure I could correct this with the vaccine provider if I ever actually get a shot through this (I did not make myself a senior or anything like that). Other than the birthday, you can google my name, job, and zip, and my cell is not hard to find, so didn't really feel like I was giving anything away. I did not check any health conditions - I would probably worry a lot more about doing that.

I quickly reviewed the privacy policy and I did not see anything horrible about them being able to sell your data, but I didn't study it for more than 5 minutes. It says that they sell aggregated/anonymous data, for what that is worth. The NY Times article says that it is a for-profit company. That's all I know. Hopefully I am not doomed to identity theft now, but you tell me.
posted by Mid at 3:12 PM on March 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

As far as I know it's legit. I'm signed up myself and haven't received any like scam calls or whatever. The people involved seem real and the need is or was real, we'll see however if providers opt to use it now that new distribution frameworks are coming into place. Ultimately it seems like kind of a long shot but not a risk.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:35 PM on March 9, 2021

I don't have any further information about the company beyond what you seem to have seen, but my understanding is that they ask for those details because even with surplus vaccines they prioritize people according to the phases/tiers/risk factors/etc.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:53 PM on March 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't vouch for ZocDoc, their parent company, per se, but I can definitely tell you that they are a pretty large and well-funded company seen as highly credible within the healthtech field - definitely not some fly-by-night outfit.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:02 PM on March 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It's legit in that it's not selling your info or signing you up for vaccine related spam calls. Like all stores of personal information, it's possible for them to be hacked and your information to leak.
It's not legit in that it's just a site set up by a random company and like all marketplaces has a chicken and egg problem where consumers (people like you who want the vaccine) and producers (people with leftover vaccines) need to match in numbers required to make it worth it to both sides. I could not find any providers that confirmed they were actually using it to distribute vaccines, so either you'd need it to catch on in the big nationwide chains or your local vaccine providers. It's easy to sign up, so it might be worth it to spend 5 minutes signing up in the off-chance you get lucky and someplace in your zip code is using it, but it's unlikely to actually get you a vaccine.
posted by hermanubis at 4:36 PM on March 9, 2021

The New York Times just ran a story about it. Half a million people have signed up and yet, uh, "Two vaccine sites have begun testing the program," though they claim 200 more are looking to participate. So they've collected a vast amount of information but have almost no ability to currently deliver vaccines to those people. I would try "extra dose" lines in person at clinics before thinking this is likely to work anytime soon.
posted by zachlipton at 5:11 PM on March 9, 2021 [10 favorites]

There's a specific line in the privacy policy that's concerning a lot of people I know that have looked at it. Unless they revise it, it would give them permission to sell your info for marketing purposes.
posted by Candleman at 5:58 PM on March 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is a data collection tool just as a company’s offer to find you cheaper prices or coupons online, or Yelp requiring you to sign up for an account before making a review, or any manufacturers online sweepstakes, and facebook are all data collection operations. The fig leaves on some are more appealing or less revealing than others.

Sure, you’re potentially getting something of value, but your data is worth exponentially more dollars to the company than whatever you are getting is going to cost or save you financially.
posted by bilabial at 7:00 PM on March 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Specifically this: "We use information that we collect about you or that you provide to us, including any Personal Data: ... to provide you with information, products, or services that you request from us or that may be of interest to you"

It's probably not actually intended to be mean that they'll use it for marketing purposes but it merits a clarification.
posted by Candleman at 7:02 PM on March 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

It doesn't appear that anyone anywhere has actually received a notification from the site.

Also, there is no way to remove yourself from the list.
posted by juniperesque at 11:17 AM on March 10, 2021

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