So, we finally managed to launch the ‘vets with vaccines’ map on Sunday; you can find it via our RHD2 Facebook group (it should also be accessible to people without a Facebook account). This has been made possible thanks to someone – someone I don’t know – messaging me to volunteer to help sort out the techy side. It’s heartening that people want to work together to get the information that is needed to the people who need it. We started out with a list, but it’s very cumbersome, hard to find, requires regular updating which then pings off notifications to everyone in the group, and makes it much harder to find what you need. A map is much more intuitive and easier to navigate (I hope).
This map charts all the practices that we have been told have an RHD2 vaccine in stock, or who have it on order and are awaiting it. The data comes either from people on the group reporting that their vet has it (or that they have rung round a dozen vets and two of them have it on order etc), or directly via practices own websites or Facebook pages. There are about 75 vets on the list at present – but given how overwhelmed the wholesalers have been and how quickly the stock has been distributed, there must surely be countless more than that who we just don’t know about…mustn’t there?
I had a quick look at the RCVS website and if you search for a practice without adding any search criteria, it comes up with just a smidge under 5,000 practices. If you filter on practices which do cats and dogs, it comes to just a smidge over 4,000 practices. It seems implausible that only a couple of percent of those are stocking/planning to stock the vaccine…doesn’t it? Another friend of mine – one who doesn’t even have rabbits – has started to contact some of the big veterinary groups to find out of they (a) have a group policy/process on the new vaccine, and (b) whether they know which of their practices are stocking it. It may be that we can make progress with adding more practices to the map in this way.
The map is only as good as the information it holds. So it’s really, really important that we pull together as a community and give any updates that we can to the data on the map. Obviously we really want to see new practices being added…but I also want to keep it as accurate as possible so that vets don’t have their valuable time taken up with phone calls/contact from people they can’t help. So if a vet is out of stock, it’s just as important that I know that, so that I can update the map details. I don’t want this to end up being a burden to practices. Techy support volunteer Adrian has been great at adding extra touches like a date stamp to each icon, so users can see at a glance how long ago that information was updated.
The other interesting – and slightly scary – thing, is how disproportionately stocked some areas are compared to others. At first glance on a whole-country view, there are lots of markers suggesting good coverage. But as soon as you start to zoom in, you realise that some areas have multiple vets we know have the vaccine, and there are great swathes of the country which have nothing at all. It’s no wonder people are desperate for information.
I hope that over time, the map will become completely redundant as the vaccine becomes readily available in every area, even if not at every practice. But for now, this seems to be what people want. I hope it is going some way to help.