Despite the roadblocks that made it hard for the people who needed vaccines to get them, some groups emerged with a mission to alleviate stress for teachers. One of these groups, “Team Vaccine,” was started by teachers Joslyn Vendola and Lindsay Davis. At its height, six female staff members, in addition to Vendola and Davis, were working together to get other colleagues vaccines: Sara Aggeler, Astrid Allen, Jennifer Breneisen, Shelley Mains, Danielle Rabina and Kristina Tobey.
Vendola, a teacher and leader in the ExCEL program, said she came up with the idea for Team Vaccine while texting with Davis, a Spanish teacher.
“Ms. Davis and I just said, ‘You know what, we’re starting to figure out how to get these appointments, so let’s put it up to the staff, see if anybody wants some help with it.’” Vendola said.
Vendola said that Team Vaccine’s success was in part due to the group’s ability to make appointments systematically because of their coordination and ability to work together.
“There were lots of individual people looking for their one appointment, but we ended up having five, six, seven teachers who were all in communication with each other, and with a team of us looking for the whole group, we were able to book appointments quickly,” Vendola said.
Vendola said that Team Vaccine was far more successful than she had even hoped it would be.
“We ended up scheduling around 80 appointments for coworkers. It was just ‘let’s see what we can do,’ and I was a little nervous that we would get a lot more people than we could manage, which ended up not being the case at all,” Vendola said.
Vendola said that the way that appointments were scheduled made Team Vaccine necessary.
“People just kept pouring in at first. Teachers and I’m sure anybody eligible was staying up all night trying to get these appointments, but lots of people were doing that, so the appointments were going very quickly, and they weren’t able to get them,” Vendola said.
Dr. Jason Tong is a physics teacher who received the vaccine from Vendola’s group. Tong said he tried to book an appointment for himself, but could not get one until Team Vaccine took it out of his hands.
“I tried to book an appointment myself and it was a little frustrating and time consuming, so I just let it ride for a little bit. But several teachers, including Ms. Vendola volunteered to make appointments for people so I said, ‘What the heck, I’ll take them up on it.’ The next day, they scheduled me for an appointment down in Dorchester,’” Tong said.
Tong said that he was incredibly grateful to Team Vaccine for the work that they did for the high school’s staff.
“They spent incredible hours late at night, early in the morning doing this as community service and for that I am very grateful. The fact that they were able to make it so painless for me was tremendous. That I do really appreciate,” Tong said.
Vendola said that she learned a lot through working with the rest of Team Vaccine.
“I think the biggest [lesson] is if you create a priority group for anything, it’s really important to try to anticipate what the barriers are going to be for this priority group. If you’re going to prioritize people, remove the barriers that are going to be in the way of them accessing the things that they’re supposed to have priority to. Otherwise you’re not really prioritizing them, right?”