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Want a Vaccination Appointment? It Helps to Know a Python Programmer

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Hypodermic needles.

Programmers are writing simple scripts that tell computers to automatically search for vaccination appointments on websites, and send them a text message when one appears.

Credit: Anjali Nair/NBC News/Getty Images

A boutique online community of computer programmers has emerged to help family and friends gain a competitive advantage in securing vaccination appointments.

These programmers write simple scripts that scrape individual state or pharmacy websites every few seconds for open appointments, and send a text message when one is available.

Dozens of these scripts have been uploaded on GitHub.

Some are concerned whether this activity is unethical or illegal.

Brooklyn, N.Y., attorney Tor Ekeland said, "Scraping data from public-facing servers that aren't using any kind of authentication protocols, like usernames or passwords? They're fine. There's generally a recognition that data-scraping is a huge component of our economy and our lives. We depend on it for our price information, for news, for communications in our social networks."

From NBC News
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