These youngsters are using their free time in between school work to help struggling senior citizens acquire COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
Tech-savvy teens across America are putting their skills to good use by helping seniors book COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Twelve-year-old Sam Keusch started helping seniors get vaccinated after he realized that it wouldn't be easy for them to book an appointment online. "A lot of seniors, they need it a lot more than younger people do, because young people are not as in danger as seniors," the seventh-grader in New York told Good Morning America. It all began as a project for Keusch's bar mitzvah three months ago when, with some help from his dad, he created a website called VaccineHelper.
According to PEOPLE, the website allows eligible people struggling to book appointments to give their information to the teen so that he can book for them. "The appointment websites flicker with new appointments periodically, and they often last several seconds before they are claimed, at which point they state there are no appointments. If you're fast enough and persistent enough, you can get the appointment," Keusch explained. "I think of it like a video game and try to be the first to get it. So I can't guarantee that you will get an appointment, but I will do everything I can to get it."
"I've had people tell me that they finally get to see their grandchildren for the first time. And that's amazing," Sam Keusch said. https://t.co/nojJtsfWg4— Local 12/WKRC-TV (@Local12) March 10, 2021
So far, over 2500 people have gotten vaccinated through the site. One of them was 87-year-old Holocaust survivor Caprice Adler. "Some people, they feel very helpless, something bad is happening and they don't think they can do anything about it," said Adler. "And what can one person do? One person can do a lot! And that lovely child could do something that adults could not get themselves organized to do, and a 12-year-old did it!" Keusch reportedly works on getting vaccine appointments before and after his online schooling.
"One side of my screen is probably studying and one side, I just keep refreshing the page and getting appointments," Keusch explained. "I will be doing this until the demand goes down... But if it doesn't, then I'll keep on doing this." 15-year-old Benjamin Kagan from the North Side of Chicago is also using his time between school work to help people find vaccine appointments. "It's a difficult balance," said Kagan, who explained that he uses lunch breaks and time after school to search for vaccine appointments. "All my sleep has definitely taken a hit from it... but I'm obviously helping so many people and it's just work that needs to be done."
14-year-old Benjamin Kagan of Chicago Vaccine Angels registers hundreds of people for coronavirus vaccine - The Washington Post https://t.co/u8tla7ulug— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 27, 2021
While Keusch took on the mission as a bar mitzvah project, Kagan realized the difficulty seniors face to book appointments when his grandparents in Florida needed vaccines. "This technology is just not built for people that are 65-plus," he said. "My grandfather doesn't even have a cellphone. They're not going to be able to book an appointment themselves. So really, we're all they have. It's a big responsibility, but no one else is going to do it." Since helping his grandparents, the teen has helped over 1000 people get the COVID-19 vaccine. He's also had the help of 50 other volunteers he found on Facebook who call themselves the "Chicago Vaccine Angels."
After watching his grandparents struggle to navigate the Covid-19 vaccination process, 14 year old Benjamin Kagan stepped in to help. But he didn’t stop there. He founded “Chicago Vaccine Angels” and has helped over 425 seniors get vaccinated. @MSNBC https://t.co/CYLxFmbhX9— Craig Melvin (@craigmelvin) February 25, 2021
"What we're doing is we are just directly booking appointments for people that fill out our form, stating that they need help when they can't book them," explained Kagan. "Around 70 percent of the people that fill out our form are seniors, 65-plus here in Illinois, and they're struggling so much to book these appointments because, like I said, they're not tech-savvy and they're not going to be able to book an appointment themselves. So really we're all we have." The teen now encourages others to help out someone who's struggling to get a vaccine or book an appointment. "You may be able to lend a hand to them and it's potentially saving their lives," said Kagan. "Being able to help someone in that way is such an incredible gift."
Benjamin Kagan, 14, learned to navigate COVID vaccine sites for his grandparents. Now he's helping total strangers--more than 100 so far.— Heidi Stevens (@HeidiStevens13) February 22, 2021
“Now that I know how to help, it’s not the kind of thing where I can say, ‘I don’t have time to do this anymore.’”https://t.co/mC1vkBDq5k