Japan is rolling out its vaccination program for COVID19, but international residents are finding it especially difficult to find information about where you can register for a vaccine shot whether you have a voucher or not. This is where Find-A-Doc, created by LaShawn Toyoda is a valuable resource.
LaShawn Toyoda is a programmer in Tokyo who created the Find-a-Doc open-source database on June 13th, 2021 to help international residents seeking out information and places to sign up to utilize disused Covid19 vaccinations so they wouldn’t go to waste. https://www.findadoc.jp/
The FindADoc database is an amazing initiative which now has hundreds of thousands of users, covers over 60 clinics across Japan and is available in 17 languages!
Please support LaShawn’s passion project with a donation to her KoFI account to keep her stocked up with coffees and pizza while she dedicates hours after work and once her toddler goes to sleep to manage and update this database. https://www.findadoc.jp/about
LaShawn Toyoda has only just started her career as a programmer transitioning from her first 10 years working in Japan as an English teacher, but in 2020 she felt she had to leave her teaching job that insisted on face-to-face teaching during the Covid19 pandemic. She felt it was too much of a risk to herself, her husband and young child at home.
LaShawn was accepted to the 3-month intensive Code Chrysalis bootcamp and threw herself into a whole new career. I spoke with the founder Yan Fan here
The FindADoc database is an amazing initiative which now has hundreds of thousands of users, covers over 60 clinics across Japan and is available in 17 languages!
Read the great article about LaShawn Toyoda’s FindADoc Initiative by Rochelle Kopp here in the Japan Times Community Section. There are great insights here about the background of the project. Rochelle is an intercultural business expert in Japan as well as a regular contributor.
Key takeaways from our talk
- Follow your passion and try to use your skills to help others whenever you can, also support people (like LaShawn) who are putting themselves out there and donating countless hours of her free time to try to share useful information and help others.
- Be kind and grateful when dealing with medical staff, doctors and nurses when getting vaccinated as they are working so hard and doing their best within this difficult situation and strict regulations.
- Google translate and other apps can only help so much, for this type of online booking and information seeking, a database of contributors in the community that have information works well.
Follow LaShawn Toyoda on Twitter for updates and shared success stories of users of FindADoc
Transcript of the Talk
LaShawn Toyoda – Find-a-Doc.JP Interview Tue June 29, 2021 • 59:41
people, clinic, voucher, vaccine, japan, pandemic, vaccinated, pcr tests, shot, waiting list, find, talking, working, helping, database, coding, twitter, joining, test, languages, japan, vaccination, waitinglist, covid19, waste, signup, community building, opensource, collaborators, coding, volunteers, please donate to KoFi
LaShawn Toyoda, JJ Walsh
JJ Walsh 00:00
Yeah. Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining. This is seeking sustainability live. I’m JJ Walsh in Hiroshima. And today I am talking with LaShawn Toyoda and You’re in Yokohama – I know that because your tag is the Yokohama life. Right?
LaShawn Toyoda 00:20
Okay, actually, that’s very misleading. I’m disappointing everyone already. I did live in Yokohama for seven years. And when I created the screen name, but I have since moved, and I am living in Tokyo. But Yokohama is so much better than Tokyo. So I’m sticking with the name.
JJ Walsh 00:41
Well, thanks for joining today, we’re gonna be talking about your exciting new project, Find-A-Doc, which is .. please describe it briefly. And then we’ll come back to it a bit later.
LaShawn Toyoda 00:53
Okay, sure. Find a doc is a small database I started about two weeks ago. And it’s aimed at helping primarily non Japanese speakers to find cancellation waiting lists to get the vaccine here in Japan.
JJ Walsh 01:11
Yeah, yeah. And it’s amazing. The story is just amazing how quickly it came about. Let’s, let’s start from the beginning, like your idea came while you were at coding camp. Is that right?
LaShawn Toyoda 01:28
Yes. So I was in coding boot camp last year. It started, I think, the beginning of November. And then I had a solo project that I had to do. And I didn’t know what to do for my solo project. But I knew I wanted to do something for the community. So I asked on Twitter, like, does anyone have an idea of what I could do to something I could make to help improve the everyday lives of immigrants living in Japan. And one of my Mutual’s on Twitter, Alex had a really great suggestion. He was like, how about a site that has this services, such as doctors, or lawyers that speak English at all, it’s really cool. And it doesn’t have to be just English, we could include other languages as well. Except I was still new at coding. So my skills really sucked. And I couldn’t make it. But I just like, you know, kept thinking about it, like, over the course of the rest of the bootcamp. And, you know, when I graduated and started working, it was always in the back of my mind, like it was something I wanted to do. But I just didn’t know when. And yeah, one day, I just realized, like, now was the time that something needed to be made, you know, because the vaccine rollout was just going incredibly slow. And there was a real lack of information. So I just sat down one evening and cranked it out.
JJ Walsh 02:57
Yeah, just to mention that we have had Yan Fan from Code Chrysalis (as a guest) on the talk show series, as she was talking about the need to improve the IT situation in Japan. This is an issue that comes up again, again, that was really great talk. And this is where you did your coding bootcamp. Is that right?
LaShawn Toyoda 03:20
Yeah. She actually reached out to me. Last year, I knew about the boot camp, but I didn’t think it was something I could do. Like, I didn’t feel like it was smart enough. Like, you have to be smart to be a programmer. Right. That was my impression. But she reached out to me when I was going through a lot and like my personal life and my work during the first state of emergency. And she said, if there’s anything I could do to help you out, just let me know. And I was like, at first I was like, Yeah, sure. Thank you. That’s really nice. But I was like, Huh, it doesn’t hurt to ask, right? So it’s like, do you think I could become a programmer? It’s just like, yeah, of course, I think you could do it for sure. And she introduced me to some free resources, efforts just to like, see if it was something I was interested in. And I wasn’t working full time. Then due to the pandemic, so she offered me a work study, to take their beginners course, the foundation’s course. And that was like the beginning of my coding journey. That was August of last year.
JJ Walsh 04:30
Wow. And in the article in the Japan Times that you were in written by Rachelle Kopp, who’s also been in the series- she’s a intercultural International Business expert. It’s really great article and she talks about that you had left your job during the Coronavirus because you were kind of pressured to go and do face to face teaching. Is that right?
LaShawn Toyoda 05:00
Yes, I was teaching at a university, which is pretty big, like, depending on the class, you could be in a huge lecture hall. So it could range anywhere from like 40 to 100 students. And during a pandemic, just the thought of being surrounded by that many people was like, absolutely terrifying, especially in the beginning, when we didn’t know much about how the virus was transmitted, and just how easily so I had to make a choice either teach in person, because the university didn’t have an online course policy or plan at that time, or quit. So I had to quit. Because my baby was really young, she was not even 12 months old, I think she was around eight or so seven or eight months old, and I just didn’t want to risk like catching it and bringing that home to her. So
JJ Walsh 05:54
yeah, and also endangering your life and endangering the life of your husband as well as your baby. It’s Yeah, it’s great to hear that some organization. Some businesses were very flexible about this from the beginning. But there were some that really pushed their foot down and said, No, you have to come in and teach face to face, right.
LaShawn Toyoda 06:16
Yeah. But also a lot of companies just kind of lagged the feet or dragged their feet. It wasn’t until about two weeks after I quit my job that the university said, Hey, okay, whoa, whoa, all right. We’ll do online courses. Everyone stay. I was like, Darren, I already quit. Why did you decide this now? But yeah, that’s been Japan’s response in general, to the pandemic, just really slow to, you know, make a decision.
JJ Walsh 06:44
Yeah. In the article as well, you were saying you kind of wish you had changed to coding earlier that it’s been, it’s been something you’ve really taken to, is that right?
LaShawn Toyoda 06:56
Yeah, this is true. Um, it’s always something I was interested in always seemed kind of cool. Like, even though it’s, you know, it’s like nerdy, whatever. I think it’s cool. But, again, I, I always thought you had to be like really good at math, and that you had to major in computer science to become a software developer. But that’s just not true. Nowadays, it is possible to learn completely from self study. I just don’t have the discipline to like, sit down, and do it all on my own. So yeah, once I rolled in the course, I thought, Hey, I really wish I’d done this a lot sooner. You know, I wish I had done this 10 years ago, instead of teaching English for so long. Yeah. Yeah.
JJ Walsh 07:44
Now, you in the beginning, you said you weren’t sure you could do it. And it sounds like it was pretty challenging. Tell me tell me about doing the course you said 13 hour days or something like it’s a lot of coding, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 07:59
Like the beginners course was nice, because I could just go at my own pace, right. And they had like, some online sessions you could join to get one on one with the instructors and get some feedback and like work through problems. So I thought, yeah, I’m so good at this. I’m amazing. I’m like, the best programmer ever. And then, like, I took the interview for the boot camp, and I bombed it the first time, I cried like a baby. It’s okay. It happens. I passed it the second time. And when I joined the boot camp, like they warned us, they even gave us letters to share with friends and family to say, hey, over the next 12 weeks, or whatever, I’m going to be really busy, possibly stressed out and not really available in the way you’re used to me being please be patient with me support me as you as best as you can. And I just thought, Oh, it can’t be that bad. But I gave it to my friends and family anyway. And oh my god, it was like, ridiculously tough. Yeah, um, even for people who had more experience, there’s this. So much work you have to get through each day. And anything you don’t have, you don’t finish you have to finish and submit by 9am the next morning. So that was really hard. Like, even though I wasn’t working, my daughter was in daycare. While she was in daycare, I took the class. And then when she was home, I took care of her, you know, fetter played with her, put her in a bath. And then whenever I got her to sleep, like around nine o’clock or so, that’s when I could finally like get to my homework. And I wouldn’t be up until like one or 2am sometimes just trying to get everything completed, like by the deadline. Yeah.
JJ Walsh 09:56
And then you were at work early the next morning and up with your Daughter and during the routine as well, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 10:02
Well, I was up at the back into Boot Camp The next morning, it was every day from 9am to 5pm. And we only had like a few days off like in December, we were lucky because most of the cohorts don’t have any time off. I don’t know how they do. But we had like a little break like a rough Christmas
JJ Walsh 10:21
for you being able to completed and juggling being a full time mother as well. That’s, that’s pretty awesome. Thank you, were you able to find someone to take care of your daughter while you’re studying a little bit.
LaShawn Toyoda 10:36
And like my husband was also working from home, and he had a lot of meetings in the evening as well. So if he didn’t have a meeting, he would watch her. Otherwise, I would have to take care of her. So we just had to kind of juggle and shared responsibility. Yeah,
JJ Walsh 10:55
well, that’s great. It’s great to have a an understanding and supportive partner. That definitely helps. We have Moe here from New York City. And she says she is a former it business owner here listening in. Hey, Kim, Kim and Sinbad has joined rushed home from work to catch this. Hey, thanks for joining. Um, so how did you decide? Okay, I’m gonna just try to make a database. You You said in the article that you noticed on Twitter, the comments and everything, everybody seemed depressed, it was dark. And that kind of spurred you to try to do something? Yeah. How? How did that start? Where did that come from?
LaShawn Toyoda 11:47
Well, there were rumors starting to float around where people had successfully gotten the vaccine. But information was getting lost between tweets, you know. So I knew of two places where people had signed up for cancellation waiting lists just based on, you know, what I had heard word of mouth on Twitter. So I thought, if two places exist, there have to be more. So we just needed a place where we could list them all and keep it up to date. And that kind of resource didn’t exist. And it’s impossible for one person to go out and find all of that. So I thought, you know, a community database would be really good, where people could submit the clinics as they found them, and also report them as the information became outdated. It seemed like that would be like the quickest and most efficient way to get information out to people. So yeah, that’s why with the database,
JJ Walsh 12:47
and this is not long ago, didn’t you just launch it? Is it the 13th? You announced? Yeah, on Twitter?
LaShawn Toyoda 12:54
Yeah, I started it. That Sunday, I think was the 13, four or 5pm. And I think around 10, or 11, I posted on Twitter, like, hey, it’s not pretty. But here’s the database, it works, you know, please, you know, share it, and let’s post more clinics and whatnot. And it really just took off, like, unbelievably fast.
JJ Walsh 13:16
Yeah, let’s talk about numbers a little bit. Yeah. It said, you said in the article from the second day, you had 300,000 requests.
LaShawn Toyoda 13:26
Yeah, within the first 24 hours, over 300,000 requests to the database, which completely destroyed the free quota that I was using through Google. So the site actually went down for a few minutes while I like, scrambled to like, you know, get a paid service. And then, you know, people were just like, so like, excited, and also, like, so desperate to like, get this information like they were offering to donate to help keep the database running. Because it was getting slammed with so much traffic. So yeah, big thank you to everyone who helped keep the site up. Yeah, that’s
JJ Walsh 14:04
amazing. So from the very beginning, did you buy the domain? Did you have this URL from the very beginning?
LaShawn Toyoda 14:12
And no, I actually bought it that night. Um, at first, I tried like a US post and it was fine, a doc de p.org. But I just thought that that’s a little bit too long. I wanted to make it as short as possible and as easy for people to remember, especially if they’re just talking about it at work or something. So like a couple hours later, I managed to get the domain find a doc JP and switched over to that. As some posts online like the old tweets, you might see the old domain address, but it still works.
JJ Walsh 14:47
And you’ve been working on it, improving the design. You’ve had collaborators. Now you have 50 clinics listed and It’s in 17 languages, is that right? We,
LaShawn Toyoda 15:03
I think we actually have over 60 clinics now, like, somewhere around 64 or so. And we had another language added last night, someone added Catalan, which is amazing. So we got that up and running right away. So I think we’re Yeah, at 18 languages. But like, the localization community has been amazing, like, just people who have volunteered to like, you know, hopefully get and submit, you know, translations for their native languages, like so quickly to, they’ve just been wonderful.
JJ Walsh 15:37
Yeah, Kim is mentioning about so many clinics in Kyoto. And Kyoto is the screenshot I’m showing now because I was impressed by how many they add. So some very active users in Kyoto. That’s awesome to see. So what is the reason to make it open source? For people who don’t understand what that is? Can you run it walk us through that a little bit?
LaShawn Toyoda 16:04
Yes. Because the project is open source. Anyone can go to GitHub, and contribute to the repository. Also, like if anyone wants to do like a similar project, they can just take the source code and make something else. I just thought that, because all of this is a community effort, it’s all built, you know, based on what volunteers are doing, that it should be open source, right, it should be freely available to everyone. So yeah, it’s been really great. But having it open source has really made my life kind of hectic, just because so many people want to help and contribute. I’ve had to switch from coding to managing more. And it’s not something I’m really used to when it comes to you know, software projects like this. It’s new for me.
JJ Walsh 17:05
Definitely. Talk about your team a little bit. I know that n killed, sir has been a big, big help. But in the article you say you really like how people have offered help people have supported, but not taken over? in that. Yeah, that’s amazing.
LaShawn Toyoda 17:24
Yeah, right off the bat. And was the first person I asked to help me, before I made the repo public, just because I wanted to make sure the data that we had collected so far was like, very safe and secure. And, and it’s like such an experienced developer. When I was job hunting, she helped me out, like with coaching me like through some my programming sessions. So I knew her style was like, just very friendly. And the way that she teaches is like, very easy to follow. She never made me feel like dumb for not doing something or for asking questions. So I really wanted her to be part of the project. And she was like, open for it. She’s like, Yes, I want to do it. Let’s Let’s jump on it. And yes, she just started helping me out right away. And it’s been like great working with her.
JJ Walsh 18:16
That’s awesome. I’m showing on screen all the people that are helping. And yeah, I was I was really interested to to hear that not only everybody supporting, and it wasn’t just about the coding that they were helping with, they were also helping manage and organize this kind of program. Is that right? That’s true.
LaShawn Toyoda 18:39
Yeah. Because we’re getting like just so many submissions to the project. And there’s a lot that goes into the background, like making sure we have all of the testing in place when someone submits code, making sure that there aren’t any security vulnerabilities. So proving like, which code gets deployed and which doesn’t, is more than I could do like at the same time, I’m still in the background, checking all of the submissions going to each individual site and making sure they’re the legitimate sites. So I really need needed some help with just like managing the code base like in general. Yeah. So Anne has been helping with that, as well as Philip from indeed, and Derek from Amazon. They’ve been just a huge help. Wow,
JJ Walsh 19:30
that’s awesome. You mentioned in the article, Japan Times, you had help from people working at Google Amazon, indeed, mircury. That’s amazing. So they’re all volunteering in their free time to volunteering,
LaShawn Toyoda 19:45
like after they’ve worked, you know, these long days at these really like huge companies like they come online and help out with this tiny project and it’s just been really awesome. I’ve been learning so much from them, and all of them have just been like, just helpful and taking like a really good mentorship approach. And like I said, they haven’t taken over the project. So when I still need to get something out fast, even if the code isn’t pretty, I just push it. And then they teach me later how to do it correctly. So yeah, it’s been nice.
JJ Walsh 20:21
Awesome. I love that. Um, in the article, you also said that this has taught us so much by trying to get an actual product out and working. It’s the best kind of studies, right? It’s the best kind of Crash Course,
LaShawn Toyoda 20:39
I’m finding all of these bugs and issues once users are actually using your application and using it in ways you hadn’t expected or requesting features that you hadn’t thought of before. Yeah, just having that level of interaction has been really good. A lot of our features were added, just because people have requested them on Twitter, like the report feature, also like showing, you know, tags where if a voucher is needed or not, or if residency is needed, or not, like, those are directly because people ask for them.
JJ Walsh 21:13
Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that design. It’s very easy to use. I have signed up for vaccination clinic in my area of Hiroshima. So okay, oh, I was so happy to see that there’s a few listed for Hiroshima. And then, you know, really easy to understand, do you need a voucher or not? So some places are allowing you to get a canceled vaccine, is it and then you’d be on the waiting list?
LaShawn Toyoda 21:43
So you don’t need your voucher yet? Is that how it works? It differs from clinic to clinic and also day to day. Some clinics will allow you to make a reservation with the other voucher. And without being a resident, some will only let you join the cancellation list. So we try to put in a note, which is the case for that particular clinic as well as a date. Because as we discovered in the past week, the local governments are really cracking down hard on clinics regarding who they can or cannot administer the vaccine to. So yeah, the information changes very quickly. But again, we have to rely on users to report it. Otherwise, we have no way of knowing. Yeah, yeah.
JJ Walsh 22:34
So I was so sad to hear that news. There’s about a month ago or so that a lot of the vaccines are being thrown away if people miss their appointments, that was just gut wrenching, because there’s so many people waiting, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 22:49
Yeah, there’s so many people waiting. And the voucher system has just really slowed everything down. So so many people that want to get the vaccine. And despite citing reservations that are open, they just can’t sign up for them because they don’t have a voucher. And it just makes no sense. Like, I don’t want to say specifically the clinic’s name, but the clinic I got my first shot from didn’t require a voucher at the time. And they really got hammered by the local government. So now they have to require a voucher. And people didn’t find out until the day of their appointment, they showed up and the clinic had to turn them away. And so those shots were just sitting there, right? Luckily, a couple people were able to stay until after closing time and get it so they wouldn’t go to waste. But had those people not been there, they would have thrown away like a bunch of shots and think of how many other clinics are going through the same thing right now. Yeah.
JJ Walsh 23:51
No, I it just doesn’t seem to make any sense to get rid of use useful and not, like expired or anything. What is the rationale for throwing them away? Do you know
LaShawn Toyoda 24:07
Japan doesn’t like to do anything outside of the rules. So since the rule has been set, that you need a voucher, even if it makes logical sense to like, give them like to just get the vaccine and an arm so it doesn’t go two ways. There’s just this pressure to not break the rules. But luckily, some clinics some doctors are just you know, following their professional judgment and doing it anyway when it’s necessary. Well, that’s
JJ Walsh 24:37
that’s part of their credo right to do no harm and to take care of people. So I’m glad that’s happening. And it’s so frustrating all this red tape. It’s wonderful that you you have a way for clinics who are offering waiting lists and are offering voucher or not and make it so clear and in 17 languages. I can’t believe it!
LaShawn Toyoda 25:01
I can’t either. We opened it up to languages. And just within the span of a couple hours, we had so many submissions, like people are wonderful. They really are.
JJ Walsh 25:11
Yeah, I had heard that the reason they were throwing them away is because that’s what they usually do for other kinds of vaccines. So if it’s a flu vaccine, and somebody reserves it, and that they don’t come, that’s what they’ve always done. There’s, there’s no logic to it in my mind, but that’s the formality. That’s the system. So hopefully, that can be changed, because we’re bound to have more pandemics in the future to
LaShawn Toyoda 25:41
not only that, but now Japan is struggling with a supply issue. Like people can’t make their appointments for the second shots, because there just aren’t enough vaccines in the country to get them. So it doesn’t make sense to keep throwing them away. And it also doesn’t make sense for random people to keep unplugging. The refrigerators. Like these, our lives are at stake. And yeah, I feel like it could be managed and safeguarded much better than it is. Yeah,
JJ Walsh 26:13
I know as an American, that’s one of the frustrations for me in Japan, is the lack of flexibility, right? And in America, we saw wasn’t it vaccine, vaccine, doctors were stuck in traffic and they got out and they vaccinated people who were stuck in traffic just randomly. Like, never happen in Japan,
LaShawn Toyoda 26:36
America handled the pandemic terribly. But it handed the handle the vaccine roll out like fantastically, like they took over stadiums and said these are vaccine venues now like, like the government just said, Okay, do whatever is necessary. vaccinate people in parking lots, vaccinate them at the drugstore, wherever you can do it, just do it. Just get the vaccines out. And yeah, I thought that was like a really good approach that Japan had a lot of time to learn from, but didn’t. So
JJ Walsh 27:12
yeah, there’s that. Well, that that said, with your website, thank you so much is really helpful. A lot of people are getting vaccinated who were on the waiting list. There’s also more vaccines at universities and businesses right now. I know the numbers, I think Melanie Brock posted that the numbers of people 50 and up has gone up 50% or something like it’s the rates of vaccination is really quickly improved in Japan.
LaShawn Toyoda 27:42
Now the rate is really high. And it’s where it should be, but six months ago, so I’m glad we’re finally there. Like that’s the positive we’re finally there. A lot of people are able to get their first shots, especially if they’re 65. and older, yet something like over 50% at least have gotten their first shot. But it’s a little bit scary, because we’re at the point where now where most people won’t be fully vaccinated by the time the Olympics begin. Like it’s just not possible because you have to wait three weeks or so. Between the shots and yeah,
JJ Walsh 28:23
We have a comment from lonely Bob here, the vaccines are stored frozen, and are defrosted for use on the day, after defrosting, they cannot be re frozen. That is why they must be used on the same day or thrown away. So this is more power to your idea of getting people on waiting lists. And if they people don’t show up, they get called. And they can get there and get a vaccine before it’s thrown away. Right. Exactly. Yeah. My goal is to have zero waste. Yeah. Wonderful. So, so important for sustainability, not only for getting rid of the waste, but also for making our community healthier. That’s sustainability, too. Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. Um, now one important thing in Japan, so you have your website is in 17 languages. This is amazing. But of course, in Japan, once they get to the next step of the website of the clinic, it’s very unlikely it’s going to be in English or their language. Right, exactly. And I see you’ve been helping people kind of on a case by case on Twitter. That’s step by step thing. It’s so hard, right? Can Google Translate maybe to help with that?
LaShawn Toyoda 29:45
They can. Google Translate is better with some languages and others. So it just depends. Also, like, some of the websites are built much better than others, like a lot of these Japanese websites, though, feel like they haven’t been updated. Since like the 90s, or something, so it’s really hard to navigate them with it without our translator. So like for that clinic in particular, I had to take actual screenshots, because they had two different booking calendars, and people couldn’t find, you know how to book a slot for the vaccine. Yeah. So there’s just confusion all over the place. I also provided links for the pre vaccination, screening documents, the survey, which has to be completed in Japanese, but they do have it translated and available in other languages. So I link to those as a reference as well.
JJ Walsh 30:42
I saw you You took a picture of the form that you had to fill in before you got your shot. Yeah, it’s it’s not easy. It’s it’s pretty difficult. Have you heard of anybody using like, the Google Image translate to help?
LaShawn Toyoda 30:57
Um, I don’t know if anyone has used that. The particular clinic I went to had it, like references printed out and other languages that they could hand to you like here, look at this, but fill it out in Japanese. And it also can be downloaded beforehand. So I think that’s like, the safest bet. So that way, you at least know it’s accurate. Just go to the Ministry of Health site and get it, you know, get the download for your native language.
JJ Walsh 31:29
That’s really good. Yeah, that’s, that’s very useful. And you’ve you’ve also, since you have an open source database, here, you have had some false information added, can you talk about that,
LaShawn Toyoda 31:44
Unfortunately, it happens every day, multiple times a day. So I have to be really careful, I let one slip by. And I realized that later after someone flagged it. The issue is, well, first, they’re just bots that submit false data, so I have to just go through and clean that up. But also, there are fake websites that have been created within the past month or so that are trying to get people’s personal information, like their name, their address, phone number, and even their voucher numbers and their birth dates. So you really have to be careful about who you submit your data to. Although the clinic might be real, although the clinic might be legitimate, the website that gets submitted might not be, it could be just something fake that someone’s set up like a week ago to look like the real one. So we have to, like, do all this research to see like, when the domain was registered, who it was registered by? Does it match the domain of the business listed on Google Maps and whatnot? Do they have reviews? And like, what’s the history of the reviews? Has the clinic been around for a while? So yeah, there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility to make sure that you know, fraudulent information doesn’t make its way out to the database.
JJ Walsh 33:12
Yeah. And that’s I you have a disclaimer on the website, saying this is open source, please check your information carefully. Please, you know, we try to take it off anything that we know is fraudulent or we think is dodgy. But we can control everything you know, and hopefully people who use it can realize that have you had any haters like any people, giving you guys a hard time?
LaShawn Toyoda 33:43
It’s the internet there’s always hate. No matter like, what you do, yeah, but I just don’t pay them any mind. I was used to just people try to get fixed submissions on to the database. No, like, personal attacks or anything so far. Luckily. Yeah. So I just you know, find them delete them move on.
JJ Walsh 34:06
Oh, good. Bob has some good advice, downloaded the documents in your own language and the Japanese version, you fill in the language form from your language, then fill in the same fields in the Japanese pre screening questionnaire forms on the day of your appointment. And temperature on the pre screening questions should be filled in at the vaccination site. These are very good tips. Thank you. That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s it’s just good to have as much information as you can have all the documentation that you can. Very important. Now we got vaccinated because this is all free. Do they check Id like is it connected to your identity at all.
LaShawn Toyoda 34:57
Again, this will vary between every clinic In my situation, because of some of the pressure, they were starting to come under, it was a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. So I filled out my pre screening form, I submitted that I wasn’t a resident, and I didn’t have my voucher. And they let me get my vaccine. And I just had to hand over my health insurance card. So there weren’t any questions asked. Now, however, with that very same clinic, that’s not the situation. They do check the first moment you arrive, if you have a voucher, and then they check, you know, if you have your health insurance card, they are still allowing some people depending on when they made the reservation to get the vaccine, even if they’re not a resident. But anyone who makes a reservation from now, I think, well, as of last Wednesday, they do have to be a resident of that ward. So yeah, it’s changing and fluctuating so much.
JJ Walsh 36:05
Yeah, it’s hard to keep up with the information. But if you do have an update, or if people are adding information, they can write that in a note next to the link is that they can write in a note, a lot of people just tweet it out. And they notice it. And I try to verify it with them. Ask them if they can write the note and I can just approve it.
LaShawn Toyoda 36:26
Yeah, but a lot of this just word of mouth. But if anyone has a different experience than what’s listed on the database, please, please flike that particular entry, so I can get it updated right away? I do update it like several times throughout the day.
JJ Walsh 36:43
How do you have time this is an amazing amount of time crunch that you’re doing on top of you have a full time job and a toddler at home, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 36:53
Yeah, I just don’t sleep. I last night was the earliest I went to sleep in a while. But it’s okay. I’m used to running on very little sleep, because this is important. Eventually, it will get to the point where everyone who wants the vaccine will have it and things will slow down and we won’t need you know, to get information out as quickly. And then I can like, relax. But yeah, I think it’s it’s just important to stay as up to date, as much as possible right now, so we can help as many people as possible.
JJ Walsh 37:30
Well, this is a perfect time to mention your coffee account that you would like to donate to all this amazing amount of extra time that you’re spending on it. You can find the coffee account on the Find a doc Japan. Wait, I want to get the address right here. FindADoc.JP
LaShawn Toyoda 37:54
There’s a little Donate button at the bottom. And that’s to buy me caffeine and pizza. Just to keep me going.
JJ Walsh 38:02
Hey, you need it. And we want to support you. So yeah, definitely. And then you also have the Ko-Fi link from your Twitter, I believe. Is that right?
LaShawn Toyoda 38:11
I think so. Yeah, I think it’s, um, it’s pinned to my Twitter timeline. If you look at my profile,
JJ Walsh 38:18
and Twitter is the Yokohama life. Is that right? Yeah. The Yokohama life. Okay, great. Yeah, um, just to get back to how the vaccine works a little bit more for people who haven’t gotten the vaccine yet. So when you went in, you showed your health insurance card, and you filled out the form there. That’s right. And then you got the you had already been in touch and signed up as like a standby beforehand, and you got an email, is that right?
LaShawn Toyoda 38:54
So with this clinic, it wasn’t for the waiting list. They actually had reservations completely open. So you could reserve an actual slot that was guaranteed, and you could go in and get the vaccine. But as of now, reservations are still open. I don’t think they have a waiting list but a lot of clinics do. And it’s best to have your documents printed and filled out beforehand. I didn’t know about them. I didn’t find out till later, when I posted that picture. Some people shared the link with me and I was like, oh, okay, that would have been really nice to have because I really struggle with like filling some of it out. Some of the medical related canggih stumped me. But yeah, generally you need to have like your ID card, your health insurance card, your voucher, and that form completed to get the vaccine.
JJ Walsh 39:55
Awesome. And I saw on Rochelle Kopp’s Twitter as well that she was able to get the shot. And I’ve seen on Twitter so many people say I was able to get the shot. Thank you so much. Thank you so much LaShawn so that that must feel great to have that feedback. And no, it’s working. Right. Yeah.
LaShawn Toyoda 40:21
And thank you to Scotty. Scotty originally shared the clinic with me that so many people have successfully gotten their vaccine from, but their reach has just been amazing and unexpected. At this point, like hundreds of people have been vaccinated for sure it just one clinic. So if there’s, there’s no way to know, but I suspect like we’ve had done more than 1000 people vaccinated overall, like across Japan. But we’ll never actually know, the real numbers, but that’s okay. The fact that we’ve helped people is good enough reason to work on it.
JJ Walsh 41:00
That’s awesome. You’re helping so much people, so many people. And you’re also giving people a lot of hope, at a time when everybody is so frustrated with the situation, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 41:12
Yeah. I was really frustrated to, um, but just like hearing the rumors that it was a possibility that we could get vaccinated soon gave me hope. And that was enough to like, motivate me to like, jump on this project. So I’m glad that could give others hope as well. That’s awesome.
JJ Walsh 41:30
Now you have most of the vaccines available? or all of the vaccines available in Japan? You need two shots, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 41:38
You need two shots for all of the vaccines currently, yeah.
JJ Walsh 41:43
Are you given a card? And then you show that showing that you’ve had the first vaccine? How does it work?
LaShawn Toyoda 41:51
So if you have your voucher, when you get the first vaccine, they give you like some kind of sticker that has like your confirmation on it, and it shows like you got it and when you got it. But because I didn’t have my voucher, I have nothing to show for it other than a sore arm. But some clinics, what they’re allowing you to do in that situation is you get the first shot, and then you could come back with your voucher later to get your confirmation. So then you can get your second shot there or at another clinic.
JJ Walsh 42:25
Oh, wow. So it’s a bit more difficult than it seems it should be. And the whole mastery system is an absolute mess. So even if you had like a receipt or something after your visit that you can show the next time that would be better, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 42:44
I think so too. Um, but they can’t even give you that they can’t give you anything without a voucher. receipt. I have no slip even showing my next appointment, even though it’s booked. I have absolutely nothing. So it’s a little worry, especially with you know, the supply, you know, being you know, insufficient right now, I don’t know if my second shot is guaranteed or not.
JJ Walsh 43:12
Wow. But you have booked a second shot at the same place.
LaShawn Toyoda 43:16
Yeah, at the time, they were allowing us to book your second shot before leaving the clinic. But as of last week, that’s no longer the case because it can’t guarantee the shots anymore.
JJ Walsh 43:28
Wow. Because it must be on record with your insurance numbers somewhere. They should give you something that Yeah, you’ve had it right.
LaShawn Toyoda 43:37
Yeah, they did. Take my insurance card. So that is on file. But I do need the voucher to get the second shot and to get the vaccine passport that is coming out at the end of July. So if you don’t have the voucher with the two confirmation stickers, you can’t get the vaccine passport. Wow.
JJ Walsh 44:01
We have a question here from JJ I need to get a COVID 19 test done for my travel to America. So you don’t know anything about testing do
LaShawn Toyoda 44:13
most of the clinics that are doing the vaccine also do the PCR tests. And I think a lot of them are under the 40,000 yen mark. So yeah, I think the the appointment system is also different like separate from the vaccine. So even if all of their vaccination slots are full, you could probably make just a regular appointment to get the PCR test them. Yeah,
JJ Walsh 44:41
I saw in Osaka, they had like a PCR test walking clinic – you pay at the machine, you do the test and come back in an hour for the result or something. So very efficient systems are being set up. Maybe now that people are starting to travel more or their work is requiring it. I’m not sure why. But there, the demand for PCR tests has certainly gone up.
LaShawn Toyoda 45:11
I think the demand for PCR tests was always high. But people were just not eligible to receive them. Like four months on maybe a whole year, the Japanese government wouldn’t allow the hospitals and clinics to give the PCR tests unless there was a clear, like trace of like, close contact with someone who had COVID. And who had been to China, even though it was shown that it was coming in from all these other countries as well. So yeah, I think the demand was always high, but people just couldn’t get them.
JJ Walsh 45:50
Crazy. I heard so many stories from people who had all the symptoms, they would go in, they would get tested for every single thing, but Oh, yeah. So they would get like a x ray for their lungs, they would get, you know, some got an MRI, like serious testing all around the issue. And even when all everything else was negatives, they were still declined the test. So and I think I’m, I’m glad it’s improved a little bit since then. Yeah, a
LaShawn Toyoda 46:23
lot of that had to do with the Japanese law, I believe someone correct me if I’m wrong out there. But if someone tested positive for COVID, they the hospital was required to give them a hospital bed. And there just wouldn’t have been in a hospital beds for everyone, especially for people with mild cases. So unless someone was like, you know, seriously, Ill from it. They tested everything else said, well, it’s not these in, you seem like you’re okay for now. Go back home. Because they just didn’t have the hospital beds.
JJ Walsh 47:05
Well, I hope we’re learning a lot of great lessons during this pandemic and applying them to make improvements for next future pandemics. Kim says the university that did mine allowed people to get their shots without the voucher and they give you a document for proof, then you have to bring the voucher when you get it, but the document is all you need for the second shot. So it sounds like some some places are doing it in a really efficient way. That’s great. Yeah. Awesome, awesome. And mo says she’s going to share your initiative with Governor Cuomo in New York. You write your idea, your open source database could expand across the world to other countries, similar problems.
LaShawn Toyoda 47:56
Because it’s open source, anyone’s free to download it and get it going in their countries. Yeah, feel free, get it up and running help as many people as you can. Yeah, that would be awesome. And if you did, just send me a tweet, so I can know about it, and I retweet it. Yeah.
JJ Walsh 48:14
That’s awesome. Um, so any other issues that have come up or anything else that you’d like to say about this database? Find a doc?
LaShawn Toyoda 48:26
Yeah, just, um, please, like, keep in mind, like I said, it is community submitted content. And I am keeping it, keeping it as up to date as much as possible, as possible, but it’ll never be 100% accurate, because things are changing so quickly. So please, just be patient. Not just to me, but be patient with the clinics. If when you get there, you find that, you know, the information on the database doesn’t match the actual policy that’s happening at the clinic. You know, when you arrive, please don’t yell at the clinic staff. They’re under a lot of stress. They’re under a lot of pressure. So be kind to them, take them a thank you card. Or if they’ll accept it, like some store packaged sweets are something you know, everyone’s trying to hurt us to get through this pandemic. So let’s just help each other Be kind to each other.
JJ Walsh 49:22
That is such a great advice. And so important to say, I know that Rochelle when she did her shot, she said she gave the doctor some cookies. And she said, thanks so much. And I think just saying thank you and just being kind to the medical staff because they are not the ones making these archaic rules and making it difficult, right, exactly. Yeah, you’re in a really difficult situation. So showing kindness for people on the front lines, and at the most risk for this whole pandemic time. Yeah, definitely is something we want to do.
LaShawn Toyoda 49:59
They’re working So hard like, I got mine done at a children’s clinic, and they’re still staying open until 9pm, giving shots and after 9pm, like just cleaning up and closing the clinic, and then they have to be backed by ATM The next morning, and they’re doing that every day. So, yeah, please just keep that in mind. They’re doing the best they can. And let’s show them, you know, we’re grateful for that.
JJ Walsh 50:26
Definitely. Well, thank you so much for those words, it’s so important to keep in mind. B, we have about 10 minutes left. Before we finish, I would love to give a shout out to your beautiful blog, the Yokohama live blog. And it has a lot of great resources for people pregnant in Japan, working in Japan, thinking about lots of the issues like finding an apartment. So I would send people over there to have a look. Yeah, like you said, it’s difficult to update. But there’s some great information there. And how did you find having a baby in Japan? any issue? Yeah,
LaShawn Toyoda 51:06
um, it’s hard to say because, you know, she’s my first and only baby. So I don’t really have anything to compare it to. But I think overall, my experience was pretty good. Japan has a lot of the health care system in Japan is very good for expecting mothers. I had regular visits and checkups at the hospitals, they didn’t really cost me much except for like the bloodwork. But they have like a system where you get a lot of that refunded back to you. So like compared to this is just what I’ve heard, but compared to some others in the States, I was able to get ultrasounds much more frequently, in see my baby much more often here in Japan that I would have had I been there. And also like, just having, like four days, at the hospital after having my baby was amazing. It was wonderful. And nurses were great. Just having that support. Because, you know, like, being in another country meant I didn’t have my family here to help me. And you know, to get me through those first couple of days and, you know, to teach me certain things. So it was nice being able to have an extended stay at the hospital that doesn’t break the bank. Yeah. So I think Japan is really good for that. Also, just the childcare after having you know, your baby, you have free health care all the way up until high school for your child, which I think is like fantastic. And that alone is like one of the reasons I think I’ll probably be here for life. Yeah, I think overall, Japan is is a really wonderful country. The healthcare system is really great. I don’t think any of the issues we’ve had with the vaccine rollout is due to the healthcare system is so it’s really wonderful. Yeah, I couldn’t see any more. We like great things about it.
JJ Walsh 53:12
Yeah, yeah. Um, I was telling you before we went live that it’s been a long time since I had my kids here. But people still say they read my articles and find them useful. So I’m sure there’s some tidbits there that someone who is expecting or just had a kid or thinking about having a kid in Japan would really find useful. So I would recommend and you also have a great YouTube channel, also kind of on the the parenting and having a baby in Japan theme, right? Yeah,
LaShawn Toyoda 53:41
I wouldn’t say it’s great. It only has like, five videos. My Yeah, my blog and my YouTube channel. We’re both focused around parenting and motherhood in Japan, but they kind of got a little neglected. Once the pandemic started in, I started focusing on coding. But now once things have, you know, calm down with find a doc, I think I’ll have time to go back and revisit them and freshen them up a bit. But yeah, check out the Oklahoma life on YouTube or the Oklahoma life.com. If you want to read my blog posts about being a mommy in Japan.
JJ Walsh 54:24
Yeah, that’s awesome. And just going back to find a doc, what are your future plans? I’ve heard in the article you were saying you’d love to continue it even after the vaccines are not an issue and use it in some way as a medical resource. Is that right? Yeah,
LaShawn Toyoda 54:43
I like to go back to that original suggestion that Alex made just to have like a service that people can go to to find, you know, health care professionals that speak the native language. But I also thought about adding other filters like If the building is accessible for people with disabilities, or if the clinic or hospital is like, LGBTQ friendly, I think that would be really helpful as well. So yeah. Moving on into the future, that is something we’ll work on. It’s just the cancellation waiting list is the primary priority right now, because it’s what people need right now. But slowly in the background, we are working on implementing these new features.
JJ Walsh 55:31
Yeah, awesome. Well, I’ve been so impressed. And I hope everybody remembers that this is just started. This is brand new. It’s two weeks. Oh, my gosh, and yeah, already got hundreds of 1000s of users, and hundreds of people who have been successful getting their shot from this resource. So thank you so much for doing all of this work. I know it’s not easy. And we really appreciate you. You guys really get to that Ko-Fi site and donate by her some coffee by herself. Thank you. Thank you so much, Kim. Both of you are awesome for what you do. Thank you so much, JJ, LaShawn – this is such an informative and wonderful broadcast. Thank you guys so much. Thank you, everyone. Yeah, Mo in New York. She’s gonna take it to New York, and she says this is gonna go big. Wouldn’t that be exciting to see go internationally?
LaShawn Toyoda 56:40
Yeah, let me know. Like, please send me a tweet and just let me know, like, what people think of it abroad, like in the US or wherever else? I’m interested.
JJ Walsh 56:50
Yeah. Because I know a lot of people even in Japan, were thinking about going home and getting a vaccination at home. But when I just looked into it, what happens if I go to Hawaii? Would I be able to get a vaccine? There’s nothing very clear like no one site, you have to go to lots of different hospital websites are lots of different information. So it would be great to have this abroad as well. Definitely. Yeah.
LaShawn Toyoda 57:16
Yeah, I agree. I agree. Hopefully, some people will be willing to pick it up so we can expand.
JJ Walsh 57:22
Mo says, I will. So let’s see. I’m excited. excited to see how it happens. Now, you said you met some people who were randomly talking about find a doc, they didn’t know that you created it, right?
LaShawn Toyoda 57:38
Over the weekend, I met with one of my friends. She recently had a baby. Well, her baby’s four months old now. So we met for the first time. So give me her little one. And her co workers were there. And they’re like, hey, let’s move you’ve been up to I was like, I’ve been, you know, working and I have this database I’ve been working on in my free time. And someone’s like, oh, you’re working on a database. Oh, do you know about like, find a doc. It’s like, this place where you can find vaccines and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And like, actually, I made it and that was like they believe me? I’m like, What? Oh, yeah, if you check the about page like oh, my god, you’re a celebrity. And I’m like, No, no, I just this dorky like sits behind your computer all day. But but it was cool.
JJ Walsh 58:31
Well now you have been in the Japan Times. It only came out yesterday. You are getting accolades. You know, people are really appreciative. And hopefully that’ll continue. You deserve it all. Thank you so much. Thank you.
LaShawn Toyoda 58:46
Thank you for having me.
JJ Walsh 58:48
Thank you, everybody, for joining today and tomorrow. I’m not sure what time it hasn’t been confirmed yet. But I will at some point be talking to a lot of bonsey about cleanups that she does in Fuji sama. So I will post that here and definitely Join us again tomorrow. And then on Thursday, it’s July already. Can you believe it? Time flies Thursday, I’m talking with Zoey in Kochi (co-founder Niyodo Adventure). And she’s talking about sustainability (in outdoor adventure) and (eco-tourism) travel. So that’ll be really good one. Thank you guys so much for joining. Thank you so much. LaShawn Keep up the good work and we really appreciate you. Thank you. Take care, everyone. Thanks, everyone. Have a good day. Take care.