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'You kind of get sucked in' | St. Louis Facebook group helps others find, book COVID-19 vaccine appointments

"I scour county-to-county. Whatever I can find I share with everybody else to help the group out," Robert Norris said of his participation in the Facebook group

ST. LOUIS — Peg Knaup is one of the more than 330,000 people on Mercy's coronavirus vaccine registry, many of whom got an update email Tuesday morning. 

The email didn't have an appointment link, but it did have a call for patience: "We haven't forgotten about you," the subject line read.

Around the same time people like Knaup received that email, she sent out her own message: a post on Facebook asking thousands of people for help finding a vaccine appointment.

"For me, it's a little stressful," Knaup said. 

Knaup has submitted her personal information on nine vaccine registries and has yet to receive an appointment link despite falling into the state's eligible tiers.

Mercy has only vaccinated about 5% of their registry, and other health organizations have even longer lists. St. Louis County health department's tally sits around the 540,000 mark. 

With numbers this high — and with so many individual clinics to comb through — Knaup is one of more than 9,400 people to request admittance into the St. Louis and Eastern Missouri COVID-19 Vaccine Info Facebook group.

"I scour county-to-county. Whatever I can find I share with everybody else to help the group out," Robert Norris said.

Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Robbie Norris said he first logged into the group when he was looking for his own vaccine appointment. He got one — then another for his mother — and then he realized how big the problem was. In the time since his own first dose on Feb. 4, Norris said the group's size has "skyrocketed."

He's now helped at least a dozen people find and make their appointments.

"You kind of get sucked in. Once you're on the site, you make friends with everybody," Norris said.

Vaccine demand still far outpaces supply. Health experts say as more people do find appointments, please try to remove yourself from other registries. This will help them keep a more accurate count and streamline the appointment process.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.

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