Pleasantville resident Daneen Mancuso has been a godsend for hundreds of local residents who didn’t have the time, patience or adeptness with technology to get a COVID-19 vaccination appointment online.
Mancuso had joined a Facebook group during the winter called Helping Westchester County (NY) Get Vaccinated (COVID-19) to help out those who were having trouble finding an open time slot to receive the vaccine. By the first week in March, when it was still difficult for many people to land an appointment, Mancuso was spending hours each evening and using her free time on weekends searching for open slots for people eager to get vaccinated.
“It really just started out with family and friends, and when I joined this group, I offered to help out as many people as I could,” Mancuso said.
It has turned into a mission for Mancuso. By her estimate she has helped well over 450 local residents schedule their appointments, but also people who found out about her efforts from as far away as Brewster and Mount Vernon and a couple of others from Queens.
Many of the people she has helped are seniors or those too busy to spend hours, in some cases, in front of their computers, hitting the refresh button in hopes of having an appointment open up. Mancuso, who has a full-time job as a recruiter, has even scheduled appointments while waiting in her car for her oldest son to finish basketball practice.
“I do tell everyone that I am in contact with to be patient, give me until this evening, and that’s when I work on a lot of my appointments,” she said. “I’ll work on it either very early in the morning or any time after dinner. One night I was up till way past 11 o’clock because I had such a long list of people to get through and wanted to make sure I secured their appointment for them.”
Most of the appointments Mancuso has snagged have been through the New York state site, for appointments typically at the County Center, and in some cases the Yonkers armory and even the Javits Center in Manhattan. The people who have requested Mancuso’s assistance, provide their name and days and times of availability for them to get their shots. She browses the sites looking for a match.
In one case, there was a man who said he was only available on Monday because he works in Manhattan, is pressed for time and commutes, she said. At the time of his request last month, he would have had to wait until sometime in May for his appointment. With Mancuso’s help, he had his first dose on Apr. 5.
In several other instances, she was able to find an opening for someone later that same day or the next day.
“Really, it’s timing,” Mancuso said. “You have to put in the time to sit there and keep refreshing and have the patience to do it.”
During the busiest stretches, Mancuso said she received between 40 and 50 requests in a day. With the increasing availability of the vaccines and many pharmacies now offering it, the volume of daily requests has slackened off to less than half that number. She has many who she already helped reach back out to assist with making appointments for other family members.
But as eligibility has increased to include everyone 16 years old and up, an increasing number of requests have come from parents of college students. The students are currently out of town but will be back in town by mid-May and she has helped them already secure their appointment for when they return.
Even though, there are other groups that have organized to help others, Mancuso said it was important for her to be of assistance. She plans to continue her efforts until they aren’t needed anymore.
Aside from the satisfaction she derives, Mancuso said she feels as though she’s setting a good example for her two sons, who are nine and 12 years old.
“I’m just happy that in my community I was able to help so many people secure appointments,” Mancuso said.
For anyone who may still need help in scheduling an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, they can e-mail Mancuso directly at email@example.com.