Julia Pinto of Glen Cove, a health sciences major, is among the New York Institute of Technology students who are helping local residents get vaccinated through a volunteer effort known as The New York Tech Medical Outreach Program: COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance Group.
While vaccination is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19, the process of registering for a vaccine can be confusing, especially for non-English speakers and those without access to technology. That’s where the group’s volunteers come in. The New York Tech students assist New York residents, as well as some New York City workers who live out-of-state, with registering for vaccine appointments. The volunteers are responsible for interviewing patients and are trained to answer questions regarding the advantages and side effects of all available COVID-19 vaccines. They also assist people in choosing the best vaccine for their circumstances based on existing health issues, work and school time constraints and other common challenges.
“We help people who do not have access to computers, non-English speakers, hearing and visually impaired, and people who are not tech-savvy,” Laura Friedland, senior specialist at New York Tech’s department of nursing, said, who launched the volunteer program. “For people with language barriers, we’ve helped with translations, and for those who cannot afford printers, we’ve printed numerous tickets. We’ve also raised money to provide transportation for families who cannot afford transportation to the site.”
During the last weekend in April, some volunteers assisted underserved communities in Port Washington, not far from New York Tech’s Long Island campus. In collaboration with the office of New York State Assembly Member Gina Sillitti, students went door-to-door, registering residents for an upcoming pop-up neighborhood vaccination event.
To date, the New York Tech Medical Outreach Program: COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance Group has registered more than 6,200 people across all five boroughs of New York City and in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. The group has also assisted New Jersey residents who work in New York City.
—Submitted by New York Institute of Technology