It’s a bird, it’s a plane—no, it’s a ‘Millenni-Agent’ swooping in to save the day with hard-to-get vaccine appointments.
Come on, it’s no secret that the efforts to roll out vaccinations have been a clusterfu** regardless of the state you live in. (A software engineer in NYC even went so far as to spend $50 out of his own pocket in order to build the Orbitz of vaccine availability just to simplify the already over-complicated process.)
In addition to a lack of information, there’s a digital obstacle, too: Navigating clunky websites offering vaccine appointments doesn't exactly come naturally to the 65+ crowd. The 25 to 40-year age group, however? Yeah, they're pretty adept at such things (even if they'd prefer an interface that looks more like Slack or Instagram).
One Millenni-Agent we spoke with—Mary of Short Hills, New Jersey—helped both her parents nab vaccine slots by logging on at odd hours. “I heard rumors that appointments opened up every Saturday morning," she says. "I’m an early bird and had my mom and dad’s login info, so would just sign on first thing in the morning when I woke up, and eventually landed two appointments on the same day.”
Still, the technology obstacles were great. “The registration was the most confusing and overwhelming part for them. A lot of info was required and they kept second-guessing their responses. Also, my mom panicked because she thought she had signed up for a COVID test and not the shot. Then, she was getting text confirmations and my dad wasn’t. It required a lot of hand-holding.”
Brynne, a mom of two from New York City, also stepped up to help her parents. “They’re both 75+ and barely know how to send a text message. After striking out trying to snag them appointments during the day and getting so frustrated, I scanned Facebook for advice and discovered two additional (and non-government) websites offering appointments. I also came across a thread revealing that new appointments were released daily at midnight.”
That’s when she kicked into high gear. “I set an alarm for 11:59 p.m. and went to bed that night with every vaccine scheduling website open and ready to be refreshed. As luck would have it, my five-month-old woke me up at 11:30, I hit refresh at 12 a.m. on the dot and, lo and behold, a number of slots were available. When the confirmation emails came in, I felt like I won the lottery.”
But what happens if you need help getting a vaccine appointment but don’t know a Millenni-Agent—or you want to offer your tech services for a Boomer in need? Facebook groups (like this one in Chicago) are springing up left and right to connect folks. Start by opening the “groups” tab, then type “help booking vaccine” and a local effort will most likely come up.
Does this type of selfless deed earn you digital do-gooders hero status? Maybe. But Millenni-Agents are also proof of a flawed system that needs fixing.