SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – A new mobile app is aimed at increasing vaccine equity in the South Bay and beyond. 

A San Jose planning commissioner has partnered with the app’s developer to help communities hard hit by COVID.

East San Jose is one of those communities with the highest rates of infection. 

The idea is to alert people immediately to available vaccine appointments. For hard-hit areas, it’s been challenging to get access and through this app, those areas are getting some help in managing the confusion. 

As eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines continues to expand, San Jose planning commissioner Rolando Bonilla does not want hard-hit communities to be left behind.

“East San Jose, like many communities throughout the state, is a community where folks from the very beginning of this pandemic haven’t had the privilege to be able to work from home,” Bonilla said. 

Specifically, the zip code 95122 has the second-highest COVID-19 infection rate in Santa Clara County.

Bonilla is hoping through “Bay Area Vaccine Notifications,” which can be found on the Telegram app, will help residents areas disproportionately affected by the virus get an appointment.

“In a working-class community where people are literally just trying to make ends meet and survive, this tool will give people the space to be able to wait in line without literally waiting in line on the computer and on the phone,” Bonilla said. 

The Silicon Valley software engineer behind the app says the person who signs up can be notified via cellphone.

The app scours over 100 vaccine locations throughout the Bay Area and the notification includes a direct link to sign up at the provider’s website.

Bonilla says a mobile app is helpful because the #1 communication tool for people in East San Jose are smartphones.

Bonilla tells KRON4 News, local governments should do more partnerships like this to help their communities.

“As we move forward it’s going to take out of the box thinking and it’s going to take government–county government, city government embracing folks from the private sector to really help us problem-solve,” Bonilla said. 

This channel within the Telegram app has been growing with more than 11,000  members. 

The next steps will involve making it multi-lingual to help a wider audience become aware of open appointments.