Twelve-year-old Sam Keusch knows how difficult the pandemic has been on seniors. Many older people, like his grandparents, haven't seen their families in months — and now there's a struggle to find vaccines. So the seventh grader from Scarsdale, New York, found a way to help others who might not be as tech savvy book appointments online.
Keusch told CBS News he first saw his dad helping his grandparents and neighbors book appointments. "I was already thinking of a Bar Mitzvah project, and I thought that it couldn't be that hard. So I decided to help them out," he said.
He said his Bar Mitzvah project was meant to help his community, and he first thought he would make a donation — then he realized building a website could help even more people. So last month, using Google's website template, he created "Vaccine Helper," a site that helps New Yorkers figure out if they're eligible and get a vaccine appointment.
Once they find out their eligibility, qualifying New Yorkers can fill out basic information required to make an appointment. Keusch's website gathers the information, and he books individual vaccine appointments for each person who signs up.
So far, he's booked more than 1,600 appointments for qualifying New Yorkers, and his website has grown through word of mouth. "It might take a day or two, but usually we can book an appointment in a day," he said.
In addition to helping seniors schedule their shots, Keusch has also booked appointments for some teachers and people with health conditions that put them at higher risk.
"Anyone that's eligible can get a vaccine [appointment] from me, but I prefer young people do it themselves because they can most likely do it themselves. ... All they need to do is spend time refreshing that page," he said. "I want to help them, but there's definitely elders who need it more than them and can't get it."
The 12-year-old says he's gotten countless emails from grateful people who received their shots with his help. "It's really amazing, just seeing seniors be able to live their own life without being in complete danger the whole time," he said.
After not seeing his own grandparents for a long period of time, he can certainly understand why it means so much for families to finally be able to gather safely.
"I've had people tell me that they finally get to see their grandchildren for the first time. And that's amazing, because not being able to see your grandchildren is tough," he said.