Local brother and sister create Facebook group to help thousands find COVID-19 vaccines

It started as a simple concern a few days ago, then turned into action to help others.

"I kind of voiced my concern for the accessibility of the vaccine," said Sharla.

Sharla, who is considered as high-risk for getting COVID-19, was talking with her brother Steve at the time, and both of them wanted to help others find COVID-19 accessibility and availability.

"Not being eligible yet, I was imagining how panicky, how frustrated people must be that are ahead of me," said Sharla.

Just four days ago, they started a Facebook group called "Find A COVID Shot WA" thinking that a few people would join. In just a matter of days, it's reached close to 5,000 people and continues to grow.

"This was an opportunity for us to just showcase a little bit of humanity within our community, within the state of Washington and to help one another to really achieve something bigger, for those interested in getting the vaccine," said Steve.

The premise of the group is simple: help people find a vaccine in their area, with a particular emphasis on minority and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, that are disproportionally affected by the virus. The key goal they say is equity. 

"We really wanted to grab the community and say hey, we have an opportunity to help each other," said Steve. 

The group has several volunteers who have stepped up to help make sure correct information is posted, and to also help out people who speak different languages find a vaccine site. 

"It's just been really fun to put their heads together and be completely selfless. It doesn't matter what political affiliation, religious affiliation, it doesn't matter. Everybody is just there to help each other get vaccinated," said Sharla. 

There are ground rules for joining the group. Group administrators say no posting about politics or vaccine debates.

"Our main goal here is to get people vaccinated and we just don't have time for debates about it," said Sharla.

They also discourage 'vaccine tourism' where people may see a distant location that has vaccines available, and then drive there.

"We really want people to get vaccines in their community," said Sharla.

The locations that are posted are also verified locations and are checked constantly for accuracy. The group has no access to unreleased information.

"We want to make sure that all the information that's coming out is coming from official sources, when it's released, not early. And that we're helping," said Steve. 

Many comments--from people looking for a vaccine, to volunteers--show how positive and helpful the group is.

"When I was a kid, somebody bought me a meal and I said, 'How can I pay you back?' And they said, 'Just pay it forward to two people.' So, here we are, paying it forward," said Steve.

The group "Find A COVID Shot WA" can be found on Facebook and is also searching for more volunteers to help.