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Tech-Savvy Volunteer Services Help Seniors Find COVID Vaccine Appointments In NYC: 'They Are Really Saving Lives'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's new help for those looking to make an appointment for a COVID vaccine.

For so many, learning the technology to navigate the process can be daunting and that's why volunteers are stepping in.

"It feels very scattershot in a lot of ways and very arbitrary," Upper West Side resident Istar Schwager Sarlin said.

She and her husband, David, recently received COVID vaccinations at the Javits Center mega site, a process that started with many days of frustration.

"I almost got an appointment at one point and then I couldn't confirm it," Istar Schwager Sarlin said.

"Sometimes got through, sometimes didn't," David Sarlin said.


They needed tech-savvy help and found it free of charge by contacting the Volunteer Vaccine Appointment Assistance Team, created by Jeremy Novich.

He, his cofounders and other volunteers search dozens of online sites and have helped several hundred seniors.

"We actually do it for them. We go the full mile," Novich told CBS2's Dave Carlin. "What started as just helping some of our friends and family has really evolved into an initiative that's attracted national interest."

"They are really saving lives, I think," Istar Schwager Sarlin said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The NYC Vaccine List is a similar free service.

Dan Benamy is a software developer who first helped his own grandparents navigate a confusing, glitchy, overwhelming process.

"You kind of have to check into each of them and check the availability one by one, and so I got them a slot and that was great, and then I just, I was like, can we help streamline this? Can we help sort of connect people to vaccines more quickly and easily?" Benamy said.

His program runs constantly, checking sites so his volunteers know the moment a vaccine appointment opens up.


Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday again acknowledged the vaccine shortage, saying more supply will make the process go smoother.

"When Johnson and Johnson comes, that vaccine comes in a matter of potentially just weeks, so we're going to get there," he said.

There is satisfaction when after all the struggle, someone finally gets an appointment and gets the shot in the arm that can bring peace of mind.

Seniors looking for assistance can contact the Vaccine Appointment Assistance Team by calling 501-510-0251 or emailing

For more information on the NYC Vaccine List, visit


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