SEATTLE — A Seattle teenager has a simple approach to booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments, and has helped book many appointments for seniors in his life who have struggled to navigate the complicated process online.
Arin Jaff said the process requires navigating numerous websites with many drop-down menus and equates the whole experience to buying popular concert tickets. He even got to assist a 97-year-old World War II veteran with booking an appointment.
Perhaps the most interesting point, is that Jaff is just 17-years-old and a junior at Lakeside School in Seattle. He said watching his grandparents struggle through the process of booking vaccine appointments inspired him to help.
"There are so many menus, you really have to be quick on the draw with typing," explained Jaff. "And just watching them go through that and try to navigate everything, it was almost heartbreaking, because I knew that no senior citizen, or nobody who wasn’t that tech savvy would have an easy time doing that."
Jaff is also a member of the Lakeside Crew team and said he got the idea from his teammates and how they work together.
"I've decided to call it the 'Vaccine Crew,' because we're really working on those ethics that the supportive Crew brings, all moving as a whole in the community and moving the boat forward, together, unified," said Jaff.
While Jaff is not set up to offer his booking services beyond his community, he is hoping to inspire other teenagers to reach out to their grandparents, or any senior they know and offer assistance.
"There's nothing really special about what I'm doing really," said Jaff. "If every teenager just helped even one person in their community get vaccinated, some of the most at risk people, we could really move the boat together."
It’s a simple approach with the teamwork mentality that Lakeside Athletic Director, Chris Hartley, said is exactly what they teach students.
Hartley said that equity and inclusion are a part of the everyday mantra of the team, and witnessing Jaff rally to provide equal opportunity to those struggling online is a huge win.
Gina Funes is just one of the people who Jaff has helped. She said she was feeling helpless until Jaff stepped in and found her an appointment just a few days later.
Jaff doesn't seem to want any credit for his good deeds and is instead encouraging other young people like him to reach out to someone in need.
"The real impact of this project is where it’s going," said Jaff. "Everyone can take the lead to help someone in their community to get a vaccine appointment."