A high school teen leads Chicago Vaccine Angels during his school breaks. Benjamin Kagan began assisting older get their COVID-19 shots in January 2021 — as of April 2, he and the Angels have booked over 3,000 appointments for senior citizens.
In early January, the 15-year-old young man heard his grandparents in Florida had extreme difficulty booking appointments for their COVID-19 shots. Using his computer, Kagan discovered how challenging it was to snag a time slot.
His grandparents did not understand how to refresh a web page. He found the appointment system was clunky and difficult to maneuver. “If it’s hard for me, it’s impossible for someone 89 years old to navigate,” Kagan added.
In February, he saw a news story about the Facebook group Chicago Vaccine Hunters created by another Chicago resident — Roger Naglewski. The group was created to help connect available appointments with people who need them.
The young man decided to make a difference. He began to provide tips for obtaining appointments on Chicago Vaccine Hunters. Seniors began sending him direct messages asking him to book an appointment for them. He told People Magazine that he got “tons of messages with heartbreaking stories.” Each of the messages was a cry for assistance.
Kagan began making appointments. He soon gathered a team of volunteers to form Chicago Vaccine Angels, which comprises 50 adults. Since then, they have booked appointments for 3,100 seniors.
The website vaccinehunter.org is set up to help individuals find a group with links for Facebook, Subreddit, Reddit Post, and Centralized Vaccine Availability. Groups in many states can be found there with direct links to the sites.
We aim to help connect and crowdsource information about vaccine distribution sites that have expiring doses with the goal of getting ANYONE that’s mobile and ready their first dose.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
People Magazine: Benjamin Kagan, 15, Has Helped More Than 3,000 Senior Citizens Schedule Vaccines: ‘He’s My Hero;’ by Diane Herbst and Eileen Finan
Chicago-Tribune: Column: A 14-year-old Chicago kid has connected more than 100 people to COVID-19 vaccines. ‘It’s completely beautiful.’ By Heidi Stevens
Vaccine Hunter: What is Vaccine Hunting?
Featured and Top Image by Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office Courtesy of Phil Murphy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Governors Office/Tim Larsen Courtesy of Phil Murphy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License