SEATTLE — Frustrations trying to find COVID-19 vaccination appointments are causing a Facebook group to explode in popularity.
The group is called Find a Covid Shot WA. It was created by two siblings who discovered an entire community ready to pitch in and help.
Find a COVID shot WA has more than 13,000 members with dozens of volunteers to help translate information into different languages. All the people willing to crowdsource information has even garnered the attention of health leaders and organizations hoping to capture the momentum for a wider audience.
The group has brought relief to many people who have had a hard time finding a place to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
"YOU GUYS AND DOLLS ARE THE GREATEST!!!” a post from a group member named Richard says. “I posted 15 minutes ago that I needed help. I sat down to have my lunch and got two phone calls, and this wonderful gal had my wife signed up in two minutes!!"
Another post from a member named Lana says, "I'm so grateful for this group! After 1.5 weeks since joining I was able to get vaccines on Sunday at Seattle Children's Hospital for my 79-year-old mom, myself, and my brother."
The group uses hashtags to help people search for open COVID-19 vaccine clinics and full appointments.
Siblings Sharla and Steve, who wish to keep their last names private, said they had a hard time finding a vaccine appointment. Sharla is from Snohomish County and is a high-risk individual. She discovered the challenges of strategizing and searching for a vaccine, and it didn't take long for her and Steve to realize the inequities within the community.
"We started looking through candidate information and the methods of how to get a vaccine,” explained Steve. “We realized that there was just a huge inequity in the BIPOC community and the high-risk communities trying to get a vaccine. We identified that there's this just this big gap and that it was really hard for a large group of people to sort of be first across the finish line, so to speak."
Steve said people are confused about how to sign up for a vaccine appointment since many platforms are used, or vaccine appointment information is inconsistent. He and his sister now share feedback with hospitals and scheduling companies to help make information more accessible to more people.
There are now roughly 30 volunteers helping run the Facebook group, with many helping translate information in at least 10 languages, including American Sign Language.
Sharla, who is a stay-at-home-mom of two with an event planning background, joked that wrangling kids can help moderate a fast-growing Facebook group.
“There's a lot of different things going on, a lot of different directions at a time," she said.
Sharla and Steve are not ready to make an announcement, but they are using the group as a model for other communities. They launched findacovidshot.org with the hopes of anyone from any state to eventually be able to find answers and receive a vaccine.