San Diego ‘Vaccine Angels' Help Neighbors Find Vaccine Appointments

The San Diego Vaccine Angels use their internet searching skills to help their neighbors find vaccine appointments

NBC Universal, Inc.

As the state ramps up vaccine eligibility, many Californians who qualify are struggling to get appointments. Now a group of San Diegans is stepping in to help.

“I feel like we all need to be working together right now to overcome this,” said Summer Hellewll, one of San Diego's so-called "Vaccine Angels."

Hellewell said a post on Facebook inspired her to get involved and help her neighbors find appointments.

“It was in that group that Gavin [Tong] had posted [in],” said Hellewell. "He said that there are a lot of us who are really good at finding these appointments and we should be helping others."

The effort to help get people signed up for vaccines started with Gavin Tong, a local tech professional who was struggling to find a vaccine appointment for his parents. 

“Going through the process to try and find a vaccine appointment for my parents, I was like maybe I should start something, get a group together to help people in San Diego find appointments,” Tong said.

California COVID-19 Vaccinations

The map tracks the number of doses administered by a recipient's county of residence according to the The California Department of Public Health.

Source: The statewide totals for doses administered reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Otherwise we used data from the California Department of Public Health
Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Now Tong is leading the way for the San Diego Vaccine Angels.

“I think the idea of neighbors helping neighbors find an appointment is super important to everyone,” Tong said. “Especially to those who have gone through the process themselves.”

The group now composed of 31 volunteers, including Hellewell, officially launched its services on Friday. Using a shared google doc and a google voice phone number, the Vaccine Angels have received over 90 requests for help. More than half of them have been matched with an appointment.

“It feels empowering to be able to do something,” Hellewell said. “So much of our time is stuck at home and so being able to actually help some friends and strangers feels like you have some agency.”

Neighbors helping neighbors in their quest for a safer tomorrow. 

The San Diego Vaccine Angels have a website where you can sign up for help.

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