High school seniors Jacqueline Teague and Amelie Beck were inspired to help senior citizens get vaccinated after guiding their own grandparents through the process.
Cousin sisters Jacqueline Teague and Amelie Beck helped their grandparents get the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisville, Kentucky. That is when they figured that other senior citizens probably needed help getting their vaccines, too. Therefore, they developed a new system in order to make the process easier for seniors. Now, the two sisters are juggling hybrid learning, extracurricular activities, and the volunteer project to make sure those most in need are able to stay safe during the public health crisis. So far, Teague and Beck have helped 400 seniors get their vaccinations with the Norton Healthcare Hospital network, one of the three health care partners allowing sign-ups for the vaccine in the southern state, CNN reports.
After helping their grandparents get the vaccine in Louisville, Kentucky, these cousins knew there were other seniors in their community who could use assistance. So far, the high school students have helped hundreds register to get their vaccine. https://t.co/VwvOnmoGL2— CNN (@CNN) February 8, 2021
At present, Kentucky has 376,253 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus. It is thus imperative for the state to administer as many doses of the vaccine as possible. So far, the state has fully vaccinated 93,651 people after administering 483,777 doses, data from Johns Hopkins reveals. Those on the priority list for vaccination include anyone 70 and over, first responders, K-12 school personnel, health-care personnel, and folks at assisted-living and long-term care facilities. While senior citizens have been top priority, navigating confusing vaccine distribution plans has been difficult for many. Dr. Anand Iyer, an Alabama pulmonologist who specializes in caring for older adults shared, "I would estimate 10 percent to 20 percent are at risk of missing out on vaccines because they're homebound, live alone, don't have transportation, or lack reliable social connections. Unfortunately, those are the same factors that put them at risk of poor outcomes from COVID."
I've heard from 2 senior citizens (over 65) in MA today who said contacting directors of senior centers & mayors in nearby towns/cities for assistance could help w/ scheduling appointments and rides for the groups 75 & older who haven't been signing up for covid-19 vaccine appts. https://t.co/Tzj6lYnelK— Pearl Freier (@PearlF) February 7, 2021
In light of this, high school seniors Teague and Beck decided to step in and do what they could to help out. The pair developed a template and set up a private Facebook page and a phone line for seniors from all over the state of Kentucky to call should they require assistance when scheduling their vaccine. They dubbed the template VaxConnectKY. Soon after it was created, the cousin sisters' grade school and high school posted the flyer on their respective Facebook pages. This is when an unprecedented amount of phone calls began pouring in. The high school seniors do not plan on stopping until the requests stop.
What will communities do to make sure senior citizens and others who lack transportation are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine once more doses are available? @AAdeyemoWPSD shows us how a local health department is planning ahead to face that challenge. https://t.co/JRpH59RsqT— WPSD Local 6 (@WPSDLocal6) February 2, 2021
"I think the most important part of this is them [the seniors] knowing that we're there for them every step of the way," Beck stated. "Everyone has been so lonely, locked up for almost 10 months so it's really a sense of relief for them to be able to get the vaccine because they're so scared." The VaxConnectKY system is rather easy to follow. When a request is registered with the teens, they help seniors get into or create a MyNortonChart account. The seniors can then enter their personal details and health information independently. Teague and Beck even help those without access to the internet: Teague explained, "We give them a phone number to go on a hospital waitlist. We feel like they appreciate the contact or touchpoint."
Minnesota officials have earmarked 35,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for senior citizens this week at more than 100 locations, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. https://t.co/d5Ymu7KEq6— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) February 2, 2021
Their initiative has received much praise in the recent past. Kate Eller, system director of communications and public relations at Norton Healthcare, said, "We appreciate these young women for seeing a need and helping to provide an essential and heartfelt service. Their idea to help seniors in our community register for their COVID-19 vaccinations is a great example of true servant leadership. Technology can be challenging, and we have been encouraging seniors to ask for help from friends or family when possible." The sisters are just happy to help in any which way they can. "We've had people calling us, breaking down about how they're grateful to us that we're helping them get it and now they're finally able to get it, " Beck stated. "It's a good feeling for us knowing that we are helping without contributing to Kentucky's numbers in COVID-19 cases." At present, the teens are researching how they can help seniors from outside the state. If you are looking for more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, you can check out this list of vaccination information pages for all 50 states and territories.