Two Teens Highlight Community Efforts Across the Country to Help Vaccinate Seniors

Posted: Mar 18, 2021 4:00 PM
Two Teens Highlight Community Efforts Across the Country to Help Vaccinate Seniors

Source: Johanna Geron, Pool via AP

Groups of young Americans across the country are stepping up and using technology to help those most at risk book appointments for Covid vaccinations.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 is clearly a discriminatory actor, with roughly 80 percent of Americans killed by the virus being above the age of 65. For this reason, the elderly were naturally the first group given access to the vaccines. However, the online appointment booking process proved to be tough, if not impossible, for many seniors to navigate.

Enter selfless and good-hearted Americans across the country.

On Thursday, Good Morning America highlighted two high schoolers who have helped a combined 4,000 residents, mostly seniors, book appointments and receive vaccinations in their respective cities.

The actions of both Sam Keusch, 12, of New York and Benjamin Kagen, 15, of Chicago, offer an inspiring example of the positive impact an individuals can have on the happiness of those around them and the health of their communities.

In early 2021, Keusch started helping neighbors in the New York City area book vaccination appointments as a bar mitzvah project, and shortly thereafter he and his father built a website to streamline the process. To date, VaccineHelpers has made over 2,630 appointments free of charge for those who have requested help. 

Caprice Adler, an 87-year old Holocaust survivor who was aided by Keush and VaccineHelpers, had this to say on the impact one person can have.

"Some people, they feel very helpless, something bad is happening and they don't think they can do anything about it. And what can one person do? One person can do a lot! And that lovely child could do something that adults could not get themselves organized to do, and a 12-year-old did it!"

Not to be outdone, Kagen has spent his last month working with a Facebook group called “Vaccine Angels” to help seniors and those most at risk book appointments in the greater Chicago area. 

In an interview, Kegan explained why so many seniors have trouble with the booking process, saying, "This technology is just not built for people that are 65-plus." Going on to note, "My grandfather doesn't even have a cellphone. They're not going to be able to book an appointment themselves.”

While each state has implemented its own distribution plan for vaccinations, seniors across the country have had, and continue to have, difficulties navigating the often competitive digital process. 

It is both inspirational and encouraging to see young Americans like Sam and Benjamin voluntarily put aside their own time and interests to do good for others, and they are not alone. Dozens of Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of member are dedicated to helping their fellow community members make appointments and receive vaccines. 

In today’s hyperpolarized and emotionally charged world, where the common bonds between Americans are harder to find than ever, two teens not yet old enough to operate a motor vehicle, along with thousands of others, offer genuine examples of American values everyone can get behind: charity and community.