- Benjamin Kagan started setting appointments for senior citizens after noticing his grandparents could not book theirs.
- Fifty volunteers soon joined him to form Chicago Vaccine Angels and book appointments for senior citizens.
- Chicago Vaccine Angels has already facilitated 3,100 appointments.
From the moment that 15-year-old Benjamin Kagan learned that his grandparents had difficulty getting an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination, he was bent on assisting senior citizens in setting them up.
To date, he and his group of volunteers, called Chicago Vaccine Angels, have already helped 3,100 senior citizens to get a schedule.
The computer-savvy teen said, “The vaccine system is clunky for everybody. If it’s hard for me, it’s impossible for someone 89 years old to navigate.”
Kagan first formed a Facebook group called Chicago Vaccine Hunters and gave out tips on how to set up an appointment, but it was still difficult for senior citizens. He recalled that some messaged him and asked if he could just book it for them.
And so, he began making appointments. He did it during his breaks from classes at Chicago’s Francis W. Parker School and at home after school. He usually did so at midnight when new appointment times are released by health departments and clinics.
Kagan said, “By me staying up late and keeping crazy hours and getting little sleep I’m saving lives. So that’s what makes it worth it. It’s incredible to help people like this.”
He set up an email address for Chicago area senior citizens to reach him. On his own, he has already arranged for 640 appointments.
About 50 others soon volunteered, a group that later became the Chicago Vaccine Angels.
He has his parents to thank for teaching him and his siblings to assist others in need.
He shared, “My parents told us if you see an injustice, fix it. These values were just baked into my life.”
For Pamela Van Deventer who spent 80 hours setting up an appointment and was getting panicky over the spread of the virus, Kagan is a hero. Kagan enabled her to get a shot immediately the day after. She said, “I had relief like I couldn’t begin to tell you.”
Kagan may not be working in the frontlines but he and his group sure made a difference.