CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine has felt more like survival of the fittest for some Ohioans.
“It has been a terrible, arduous task for people in my age group and older,” Sharon Moster said. “As soon as they put up spaces, they're gone.”
Seniors make up our nation’s most vulnerable population and were some of the first in line for a shot in the arm, but many of them have been left to schedule appointments using technology they’re simply not familiar with.
“I just said, ‘Hey, I’m here to help.’ People were just desperate,” Marla Zwinggi said. “I mean, completely desperate.”
Zwinggi is a one-woman super scheduler and experienced the difficulty firsthand when trying to enroll both of her parents for their vaccines.
As a self-proclaimed spreadsheet wizard and a coffee consumer, she got to work.
“It’s a labor of love, I guess,” Zwinggi said. “I’m at 212 appointment bookings.”
She currently spends about 10 hours a day scheduling Ohio seniors for their vaccines.
“I helped book a 93-year-old woman who did not have access to a computer,” Zwinggi said. “I spoke with another woman who was trying to get them for her elderly parents.”
Zwinggi said there is a method to her madness and a strategy to her spreadsheets.
“I have a list of zipcodes that sit next to me,” Zwinggi said. “I try to get it as close as I can to where they're located.”
As the rollout of a centralized state database has stalled, many Ohioans have been left to crowdsource when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The woman who's done a couple hundred, I admire her,” Moster said.
Meantime, Zwinggi said she will continue helping perfect strangers.
“I keep in my mind that I’m trying to will this away for the state of Ohio,” Zwinggi said. “I know that's not true, but that's the mentality I use to approach the situation.”