It’s been stressful and difficult for some people trying to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, and now some Chicagoans are hoping to help secure appointments for seniors desperate who need the shot.
“For a senior to find an appointment online, it’s like the 'Hunger Games' of the internet,” Chicago resident Lindsay Taylor said.
NBC 5 talked to Taylor and another woman, Katie Selander, who live in Chicago about their mission to help.
“We’re all here to help each other and that’s what’s important right now,” Selander said.
Both women joined the Chicago Vaccine Hunters Facebook group and made a post just days ago offering to help book appointments for people they have never met.
“Before I knew it my inbox was flooded with like 20 messages from people asking for help, and most of those people weren’t asking for themselves,” Selander said. “They were asking for their parents or an aunt or an uncle who’s sick. A lot of them said I don’t live here, I live in a different state so it’s hard to help them.”
Selander was able to secure appointments for her family and friends and wanted to do the same for someone else.
“I’ve had 21 appointments scheduled for people total,” she said. “Of those 21, 19 have already had their first dose. And I have about 15 more people on my list.”
Selander said it makes her "so happy" when they send her pictures of them getting the vaccinated.
“I know it’s been so stressful for people and just that small thank you means everything to me,” she said.
So what’s her secret? Selander said it’s best to check on the weekends when booking appointments.
“Truthfully I'm sticking to one pharmacy that I'm using and I know -- let's say Monday thru Thursday — appointments are not going to be available,” she said. “I noticed from my experience they come out on the weekends. Since I don’t do anything on the weekends, I just sit, put on some Netflix and just refresh, refresh.”
Selander and Taylor have come up with their own strategies to secure appointments.
“My one tip to people would be don’t just search in your own zip codes,” Taylor said. “You’re going to have to be willing to travel, get in a car or have someone drive you to the appointment, maybe up to two hours away.”
Taylor has been able to book four appointments for others since joining the group a few days ago. One of them, a 75-year-old man, was vaccinated Wednesday morning.
“She [his daughter] was overjoyed. She said 'how did you do this? I had been trying for weeks',” Taylor said. “She was so happy and so relieved. Unfortunately, she lost her mother to cancer two months ago and she said her main priority was finding a vaccine for her dad and protecting his health, and what an amazing thing for a daughter to do for a dad.”
Taylor said she is doing this asking for nothing in return. Rather, she is helping people out of the kindness of her heart in hopes others can spread love and be kind to one another during an unprecedented time.
“The more we help each other the better we’ll feel and the faster we’ll get through this and get back to normal life. So please help someone if you can,” Taylor said.