BURRILLVILLE – First, it was an aunt.
Jake Soares, a 16-year-old from Burrillville, helped his relative to set up an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, navigating the often-frustrating Vaccinate RI website, filling out the online form and refreshing the screen often to see when new time slots became available.
“I wanted to help her out so she could feel safer,” he said.
Then, other relatives came forward to ask for help.
And they sent Soares, a student at Mount Saint Charles Academy, to see their friends and neighbors.
Once those appointments were secure, there was his mother’s co-worker, and the contacts of those contacts, as Soares’s charitable deed continued branching out.
To date, he has set up appointments for 36 people.
“The task is daunting and he felt he could help those that may have trouble doing it themselves,” said Lauren Soares, his proud mother. “He figured out that he could help people.”
“I’ve been helping family, and their friends, and their friends, and older people who don’t know how or don’t have the resources themselves,” Jake said. “I can do it faster than older people sometimes can.”
The tech-savvy teen notes it wasn’t easy. When appointments first became available in late February and into March, the shots were released in small batches. The website was slammed each time doses were announced, glitches were common, and vaccine hopefuls had to act fast if they hoped to get their name on the list.
“It was really difficult,” Jake said noting the appointments often would be taken by the time he finished filling out the registration form. “You don’t know when a new one is going to pop up, so you have to keep refreshing.”
For those anxious for the vaccine with limited comfort using the technology, it was all too much.
“It’s much easier for me,” Jake said.
“Jake has always been a compassionate person, and seeing his concern (for) others during the pandemic and then the excitement after securing vaccine appointments for friends, family and people we don’t even know – makes his father and I so very proud,” said mom Lauren.
As Rhode Island’s vaccination effort continues, more doses have become available, with pharmacies offering appointments and new regional sites launching.
“It’s much easier for people now.,” Jake said. “You can go to your doctor or the website. It has more appointments than it did before.”
Still, he’s happy he was able to step in when he was needed, helping to provide others with peace of mind.
“They can see their grandkids. They can see their friends,” Jake said. “They can finally get together with people they haven’t seen for the past year.”