by: Markie Martin, Nexstar Media Wire
Posted: Feb 9, 2021 / 12:19 pm CSTUpdated: February 9, 2021 / 12:19 p.m. CST
DALLAS (NewsNation Now) – The largest vaccination campaign in American history is not without its complications and flaws. The vaccine has not been allocated to every provider, and those who have did not work with an endless supply. This is where grassroots groups and efforts to locate them come in.
“At first it was only four or five appointments,” said a vaccine hunter in Dallas. “Now we have hundreds of appointments. So yeah, it’s addicting because I think, “Yeah, I have one! I have another person! ‘”
The vaccine hunt for Payal Patel began in December. What began as an attempt to protect her parents and eligible family members led her to a Facebook group.
Every day, members post questions, comments, and share where they got a vaccine. Jon Battle helps run the website. In two weeks it has grown from hundreds of members to 13,000.
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“Well, I kind of know they come here because of a lack of information about the whole thing,” he said. “Where to, what to do, how it is, I mean a thousand questions.”
Patel began sharing reliable information about where she saw the availability of appointments, and soon people came to her for answers.
“As soon as I helped a person, they went to their family members and spread the word that they helped me, they can help you too,” she said.
In fact, Jon and his wife were vaccinated themselves for one of Patel’s jobs over the weekend. The full-time mother of two children has now taken on this as her daily side appearance – a passion project.
All from her phone and home office, where she keeps a table of legitimate names all week, protecting their personal information and tracking when vendors announce available doses.
“And you know certain will go live on a certain day, and I’m ready. I have all the names from the weekend and we are usually ready on Monday morning, ”she said.
And she’s not the only one on the hunt. In Nevada, Stuart Timpa is a dealer in a Las Vegas casino. He is 61 years old, but is considered an indispensable guest worker. As for when he’ll get the vaccine, it was crickets.
“I was exposed to thousands of people and was lucky not to have caught the virus,” said Timpa. “But you know, I don’t want to push my luck.”
All of this as many Americans are desperate for COVID-19 protection – some are even cutting the line.
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Some leaders address the importance of waiting for your turn.
“We see rumors and sound examples of people getting access to the vaccine who are not already eligible. It’s not fair and this has to stop, ”said Steve Sisolak, governor of Nevada.
Patel says she is trying to get appointments only for those eligible in phases 1A and 1B. She has no background in healthcare and the only payment she receives is thank you flowers and personal letters that now fill her kitchen island.
“I didn’t do anything special other than click a link, fill in some information, and pray to God I would get it,” she said.