DES MOINES, Iowa — 4:30 a.m. is a tough wake-up call for a lot of Iowans. For Stacie Nessa, however, she's motivated to get out of bed before the sun rises.
"I'm already up at that time, so I figured, why not schedule some vaccines?" Nessa told Local 5.
The central Iowa mother is a social worker by day, but before and after work, she is online trying her best to find vaccine appointments for others. Nessa was overwhelmed with the confusing vaccination registration systems available to Iowans when she became eligible for the shot.
"I'll never be surprised to hear that somebody 65 or plus has a major medical event while attempting to schedule a COVID vaccine," Nessa said. "And you don't know what it's like unless you're doing it yourself."
The news of Nessa helping her parents and others quickly spread thanks to social media and word of mouth in her hometown of Huxley.
From there, the texts and calls wouldn't stop.
She keeps track of everyone who contacts her with two phones, taking notes and keeping different pharmacy and health department websites open.
"I just keep hitting refresh, refresh, refresh, and then when I get to the page to give more information," Nessa said. "I know it's game on."
She has helped hundreds of Iowans, and even a Missouri resident, schedule a vaccine appointment. One of them was Radcliffe resident Ona Mae Lettow. Her daughter, Larena, learned about Nessa's hobby through family friends.
"I spent hours calling the [Iowa Department of Public Health], her county, and others to get her an appointment but it was just so hard to navigate getting those appointments," said Larena, who lives in New Jersey and hasn't seen her mother in over a year.
Larena has even dubbed Nessa "The Vaccine Angel."
"She was a lifesaver. She knew how to help us," Larena said. "I'm now fully vaccinated in New Jersey and my brother will be getting his second dose the same day as my mom, so hopefully we can all be together soon."
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that Iowans 65 and older can call 2-1-1 beginning March 8 for help scheduling a vaccine appointment. On Friday, vaccinate.iowa.gov will launch, which will serve as a resource for Iowans looking to see vaccine appointment availability in their area.
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