“Can you talk about anything other than vaccines?” my friend Jeff said on the phone.
I guess he might consider other things, because he lives in California and the vaccine rollout went smoothly. When it’s his turn, he can wait for his doctor to call him.
But I have nothing to say. In New York, the labyrinthine system makes people have to compete for appointments such as the “Hunger Games” or simply give up because of frustration. There are state websites, city websites, separate apps for Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens, not to mention hospitals, smaller pharmacies, and mysterious sites, which seem to drop hundreds of doses in the middle of the night.
During the pandemic, some people are baking bread and others are tidying up their closets, but now more and more people are trying to help strangers get vaccine appointments.
For me, it started in January when I learned that there are people over 75 who are eligible to compete in New York. I tried to help my mother in Riverdale, my father-in-law in Queens and my brother-in-law̵
Soon, I joined a Facebook group called “New York/Connecticut Vaccine Hunters and Angels” or VaccineAngel.com founded by Joel Leyden, which has helped hundreds of online and dozens Offline users.
Leiden said: “The reason I created VaccineAngel.com is because I have received online and social media training and can train thousands of people.” Leiden talked about being qualified (priority is given to seniors and First responders) make appointments and help others to look for possible otherwise it will be discarded.
“I know that a professional group can save vaccines and save lives.”
Such groups not only share links to available sites and vaccines, but also provide tips and tricks: for example, the exact time the country publishes the appointment (half an hour and 3 minutes), or which auto-refresh extension to install on your browser so you don’t have to The same “update” button must be used to interrupt the thumb.
After I started dating qualified Facebook friends (one had a heart problem, the other was a cancer survivor and the parents were hospitalized for COVID), I realized that I knew how to navigate the system and it could also be used by other qualified people. (My biggest coup among 30 strangers: I vaccinated an 85-year-old couple from the Bronx.)
I am not a hero. I just want to end this epidemic. Moreover, as a journalist/crusader who likes to fight with systems and institutions to improve the system, I am also very satisfied with fighting for the little ones, and the “little ones” refer to how many people in New York who have been put on hold I was told that there were no appointments available until hours later.
I am not the only one.
“In a pandemic, when life is slow, it is really satisfying to find other challenging and useful things besides my daily work,” said vaccine hunter Dana Siegal, who has helped dozens of people, including some The elderly women who cannot travel far.
“This is the most I have talked with strangers in a year… I hope I can find more people to help!”
This kind of rush-receiving a thank you letter from a stranger and seeing the photo of the vaccinated person finally has a sense of purpose and urgency-really satisfying… and a certain degree of addiction.
Some “vaccine angels” reported dreaming of automatically refreshing their website pages, others said that they felt that any call without a vaccine hotline was a waste of time, and some admitted to helping people become more competitive. movement.
“Don’t you think you should stop now?” My husband said that when he returned home, he found our little girl having dinner in front of the TV… and I was still talking to someone on the vaccine hotline.
I promised my husband, “I will stop” because I have been looking for someone’s father who lives on what we call “the terrible Long Island” due to lack of resources.
“I just need to give it another shot.”
Amy Klein is a writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @AmydKlein and Instagram.