VacciDate — Get alerts on your phone to book available slots quickly through Co-WIN.
It’s been a month since vaccines were rolled out for those above 18, but we continue to struggle when it comes to securing a slot either on the Aarogya Setu App or through Co-WIN’s self-registration portal.
Why is it difficult to book a slot?
It’s because of a major shortage of vaccines and a lack of an alert system within Co-WIN.
Then, how are some people managing to secure slots?
The availability of vaccination slots depends on updates from hospital data, so citizens are forced to refresh the Co-WIN portal, sometimes spending hours at a time to be the fastest finger first.
But, there’s now a way to set up an alert.
You only need to have/download Telegram and it is also absolutely free and secure.
I have created a Telegram BOT called VacciDate, which will do it for you absolutely free and never fail to alert you once a slot is made available. TBH, I created it for friends and family and I’ve now published it for the general public and the codebase can be found in my Github repository (click here).
What is VacciDate?
VacciDate is a Telegram-based BOT that will check vaccine availability for you every 30 seconds and send you a notification once the slot is available. I booked my own vaccination slot with the help of notifications from the BOT.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to run this BOT on your local system or your personal cloud instance in 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Create a Telegram BOT and Channel
To create a Telegram BOT, you’ll first need to have an account on Telegram. Telegram is a messaging application that is available on both Android & iOS.
The whole setup is possible on your smartphone, but we will need to open Telegram Web to get a few details in future steps.
Create Telegram BOT and Channel
Follow the steps as shown in the screen-shots below.
Get Chat Id for the Telegram Channel created
We have noted down the API Token for the Telegram BOT. Now we need to get the Channel Id for the Telegram channel created to send notifications.
There are multiple ways to retrieve Channel Id. The simplest way is
- Open the Telegram web on your favorite browser. https://web.telegram.org/#/login
- Log in using your phone number open the channel you just created.
- See to your URL, it should be like https://web.telegram.org/#/im?p=c1234567890_13000449073326506992
- Grab “1234567890” from it, and add “-100” as a prefix.
- Your Channel id will be “-1001234567890”.
Keep a note of the Channel Id and the BOT API Token, we will use it when we set up the code on our local system.
You can now set up your own BOT on Telegram. You’ve now also learned how to create a new Telegram private channel and make our BOT the administrator of the channel and how to fetch BOT API Token and Channel Id.
In the next part, we will see how to set up the code on your local system and execute it periodically to get notifications on our Telegram Channel.