This local hero was far too busy getting his fellow New Yorkers vaxxed to even have time to cut the line.
This month, he finally got the shot himself.
“Update: TURBOVAX IS VACCINATED,” Ma tweeted on April 1 along with a photo of himself giving a thumbs-up at the Javits Center vaccination site — a rare post from the usually faceless account, which is devoted to helping jab-seekers navigate the city’s and state’s chaotic mess of appointment-finding websites.
“If you were to tell me from the very beginning that I would have helped a hundred people get their vaccines, I would have been ecstatic,” Ma, 31, told the Cut of the project, which he refers to as his “baby.”
In the months since creating TurboVax over the course of two weekends in January, at the cost of $50, it has proven exponentially more impactful.
“At this point, it’s tens of thousands. It could be hundreds of thousands,” he said.
Ma was inspired to create the site after struggling to make an appointment for his mother.
“You had to basically open three tabs, one for each major government vaccine portal, and then refresh all day until you got an appointment,” Ma told the Guardian of his motivation to “take a look under the hood” and make a more efficient system for those looking to get their Fauci ouchie. “Not everyone has the ability to sit in front of a computer and refresh all day.”
So Ma built a bot to find available appointments, which he then promotes on TurboVax’s Twitter. “Everyone knows how broken the existing system was. How it was so difficult for the technologically challenged to find appointments, to even just find availability. I think this lowers the barrier to entry,” he explained to NY1, which crowned him New Yorker of the Week in late February, when he began additionally using TurboVax to document anti-Asian racism.
“Anti-Asian hate crimes are out of control. I am taking a stand because I fear for my friends and family,” TurboVax tweeted on Feb. 27 in a break from its typical posts of currently open vaccine slots. To date, Ma has used TurboVax to raise over $180,000 for the grassroots nonprofit Welcome to Chinatown, according to the Cut.
And while the vaccine has finally hit his immune system, the fame and glory of his viral website — and his new nickname of Vaccine Daddy — has not at all gone to his head.
“I’m not used to speaking up. I’m a very private person,” he told The Cut. “I would like to think that once it’s all said and done that I’ve made a meaningful difference in the lives of many New Yorkers. That never would have happened if I just didn’t do it.”
Ma did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.