ROSLYN, New York -- Ava and Lily Weinstein always use to see their grandparents daily. However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, their visits soon had to be over FaceTime or chatting through windows to keep their distance.
In January of this year, when the Pfizer vaccines started to roll out across the country, Ava and Lily wanted to make sure their grandparents stayed up to date with how to schedule and sign up for one.
"We are not computer literate, and I was on the phone for hours," said Shelia Resnick, Ava and Lily's Grandma. "When they didn't pick up, I said, oh my God, we're going to be doomed. I mean, I want to live."
Resnick's frustration and concern soon transferred to her granddaughters, who took it upon themselves to navigate the complicated vaccine-scheduling website.
After Ava and Lily got their grandparents covered, they thought 'how would other senior citizens be able to do this on their own without any help or even the technology to do so?'
"Everyone was asking us how we did it," said Ava. "We were like, why don't we just help out everyone if everyone clearly needs help?"
That's when the teen sisters created Vaccine Teens, a free hotline service where Ava and Lily will find a vaccine appointment based on your needs and location.
They made a flyer explaining their mission and distributed it throughout their grandparent's apartment building, and as soon as they left, they had already gotten around 30 calls.
"Once we get an appointment, we already know that we are potentially saving someone's life," said Lily. "Even if we put them on a waitlist, it's better than not having anything at all."
In between full-time virtual schooling, the sisters listen to voicemails, follow-up on missed calls, and keep track of people who have yet to schedule an appointment in an organized Excel spreadsheet.
The calls can be overwhelming at times, but Ava and Lily know that it'll be worth it in the end.
"These times are just so hard for everyone," said Ava. "We want to do everything we can to get back to normal life and help as many people as possible.
Ava and Lily's COVID-19 vaccine helpline is still available and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon until everyone gets vaccinated.
Contact Community Journalist Alex Ciccarone