NEW YORK — It’s become an all too common story.
Huge Ma, shaking his head said, “I had trouble looking for a vaccine for my mom.”
What You Need To Know
- Huge Ma created a website to find people vaccination appointments
- He did it all on his own as a side gig
- The site has helped thousands of people so far
- He's also trying to give back to the Asian community that has been inappropriately targeted at this time
All across New York State, people struggling to find COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Huge Ma was one of them.
“To find a vaccine, I basically had to have three tabs open and spend all day refreshing. And just hope that an appointment would pop up," Ma shrugged.
Ma, a software engineer for vacation rental website Airbnb, put his technical skills to work creating a vaccine finder website.
“I just thought, ‘There had to be a better way,’” Ma said.
In the course of just two weekends, Ma created TurboVax. The website tracks 45 vaccination sites across the five boroughs and tweets out available appointment times all day long. Ma is blown away by what this “side gig” has accomplished.
“It’s been pretty crazy to think about that thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of people have been able to find vaccines through TurboVax,” Ma said.
Ma still has his day job, but is happy that in this way he’s able to give back.
“I’ve gotten hundreds if not thousands of messages. On Twitter, in my inbox. Working on TurboVax is hard work, but I think that all the support has really helped keep me going,” Ma commented.
New Yorkers have been more than appreciative, tweeting their gratitude. Some going as far as to offering gifts. Ma encourages people to contribute to the non-profit Welcome to Chinatown.
“In these moments, a lot of Asian Americans are finding themselves targeted. So I wanted to use my moment in the spotlight to kind of highlight an organization that is not only working to preserve Chinatown but also fighting anti-Asian discrimination," Ma said.
Thanks to Ma’s efforts, $21,000 have been raised in the course of a week and TurboVax’s page has over one million site views.
“Everyone knows how broken the existing system was. How it was so difficult for the technologically challenged to find appointments, to even just find availability, I think this lowers the barrier to entry,” Ma said.
So, for cracking the code on finding vaccination appointments, Huge Ma is our New Yorker of the Week.