‘We’re kind of like tech support’: Teen cousins help hundreds of senior citizens sign up for COVID-19 vaccine
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As vaccination efforts ramp up across the country, Amelie Beck, 14, and Jacqueline Teague, 16, are making sure senior citizens in their state get in line.
The cousins launched a program called VaxConnectKy, which helps older adults register to get their COVID-19 vaccines. People can call the program, and either Beck or Teague will walk them through the registration process of getting an appointment with the state or provide a number to get on the waitlist.
"We’re kind of like tech support for the process," Teague explained to FOX Television Stations Tuesday.
So far, the teenagers said they have helped more than 700 people sign up in Kentucky, mostly in the Louisville area.
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The high schoolers started the program after helping their grandparents get the vaccine. They said they realized the technology involved made it difficult for some senior citizens to sign up.
"We realized that the process of actually registering for the vaccine wasn’t user-friendly to people who are not computer literate," Teague said.
As states across the U.S. roll out the COVID-19 vaccine, senior citizens are scrambling to figure out how to sign up to get their shots. Many states and counties ask people to make appointments online, but glitchy websites, overwhelmed phone lines and a patchwork of fast-changing rules are bedeviling older people who are often less tech-savvy, may live far from vaccination sites and are more likely to not have internet access at all, especially people of color and those who are poor.
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"I think it’s confusing when you don’t have a person to talk to because it makes you feel you’re alone in the process," Beck said. "The authentication codes and the verification codes and everything are really confusing to them."
According to state leaders, more than 538,000 people have been fully vaccinated in Kentucky. Adults over 70 years old, first responders, healthcare workers and school personnel are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
Since the pandemic hit the U.S. nearly a year ago, more than 389,000 Kentuckians have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 4,200 have died.
According to Johns Hopkins, more than 27 million people have tested positive and more than 486,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.