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May 4, 2021 | Alumni

Texting tool built by U of T alumnus Zain Manji helps Canadians find nearest vaccine clinic: Toronto Star

Zain Manji smiles, standing in front of a wooded lake at sunset.

Zain Manji (BSc 2016 INNIS), who studied computer science and economics at U of T, and business partner Ashish Yelekar built a text-based service to help Ontario residents find the nearest vaccine clinic (photo courtesy of Zain Manji)

Ontario residents can now find the nearest COVID-19 vaccine clinics by typing a short text message.

Inspired by a similar service in the United States, Zain Manji (BSc 2016 INNIS) and Ashish Yelekar, the founders of Lazer Technologies, developed a service that allows Ontarians to instantly receive a list of the three nearest vaccine clinics by texting their postal code to 1-833-356-1683, the Toronto Star reported.

Manji graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics. His company is a digital product studio whose clients have included The Weather Network and Royal Bank of Canada.

He told CTV News that he and Yelekar “whipped up” the texting tool in a matter of hours. The messages mirror information made publicly available by the government.

The service is currently accessible to those with postal codes in Ontario and British Columbia, and the pair are working on expanding to more provinces and providing more information about eligibility and vaccine type in their text messages, Manji wrote on Twitter.

After launching last Friday, more than 85,000 people texted in over the weekend, he told the Star.

Read more in the Toronto Star