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With doses in short supply, thousands of frustrated COVID-19 vaccine seekers are turning to social media for help and getting it

Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

“Everyone’s helping each other out in different ways,” said Chicago resident Roger Naglewski, who created the site earlier this month.

A group of about four dozen volunteers began working directly with other members to track down open slots for them. Naglewski estimated these helpers — dubbed “vaccine angels” — have hunted down more than 200 vaccine appointments for other members, mostly for seniors with limited technology or difficulty traversing the online maze of pharmacies, government agencies and health care providers.

When Amber Dow joined the Facebook site, she was expecting general information or to be steered in the right direction.

She was stunned when Gladys Rosas, another member she had never met in person, reached out and sent specific open appointments tailored to her location and availability. Rosas had also combed the internet to help several relatives get vaccinated and wanted to share her expertise.

It was an unexpected human connection amid an otherwise confounding and impersonal process.

Over a series of private messages, Dow shared with Rosas that her father, who had some heart problems, was being discharged from the hospital shortly and she wanted him inoculated as soon as possible. She was worried about his health already, and the thought of him catching COVID-19 was terrifying.

 

“I’m in health care so I know how important it to help folks like your dad get this vaccine,” responded Rosas, a physical therapist who lives in north suburban Morton Grove.

The next day, Dow sent a photo of her dad at the grocery store post-vaccination, reiterating their thanks. Duane Dow, a longtime Chicago-area sportscaster, said he feels “terrific” knowing he has greater protecttion against the virus.

“I didn’t expect anyone to individually help me at all,” his daughter said. “I was just so taken aback by how big her heart was.”

Rosas said she’s continuing to help others get vaccinated.

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