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New CoWIN API guidelines reduce reliability of third-party alert services

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The Indian government has issued new CoWIN API guidelines for its vaccination drive portal. The new API rules will negatively impact a number of third-party tools that have been helping people find an available slot for vaccination. This is because the guidelines now state that appointment availability data shown via third-party tools will be cached and not real-time, which could result in a notifying delay of about 30 minutes.

After registration on the CoWIN platform, many users could not secure a vaccination slot between the 18-44 age bracket on May 1. So developers took benefit of the CoWIN API  that let them create various tools. These tools could let people get notified when vaccination slots for the 18-44 bracket and 45+ bracket were available in their area.

However, the new CoWIN API issued by the Indian government makes all these tools redundant for timely notification of slot availability. With the expected delay of about 30 minutes, the number of actually available slots could quickly go down by the time users receive their email or Telegram alerts.

The new guidelines claim that “the appointment availability data is cached and may be up to 30 minutes old”. Further, the APIs are also subject to a rate limit of 100 API calls per 5 minutes per IP, affecting their reliability even further in some cases.

The tools and web pages were helpful for many citizens who could simply wait for the mail/Telegram notification instead of repeatedly checking the CoWIN platform every day. With the new changes, the most reliable to check the availability of vaccination slots in your area is the CoWIN website alone.

How can you still check for vaccination slot availability?

Users who want to check for slot availability for vaccination in their areas can still check the same using the CoWIN portal. To do this, go to the CoWIN website (www.cowin.gov.in/home). Here, users will see two methods to check for availability. These are ‘by district’ and ‘by PIN code’.

Users can choose either and choose their district, or enter their PIN code to check for various slots available in their area, sorted by date and age groups. Check out more details in the link below.

Since India started the vaccine registration process for its adults aged between 18 and 44, the process has seen a number of hurdles. These include crashing servers on May 1, the first day for registration, followed by very low to no availability of slots in many regions. The lack of these useful tools now means that getting information on slot availability could be more inconvenient.

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