Health

Here’s How To Volunteer At A COVID Vaccine Center

Even if you’re not a medical professional.

A person wearing a mask examines a syringe. Volunteering to help with COVID vaccine distribution can...
Andre Coelho/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The COVID vaccine is slowly coming to arms near you, and you're probably wondering a combination of "when will things go back to normal?" and "when can I get vaccinated?" One way to make that process go faster is to help vaccines get into arms yourself. Yes, you can volunteer to administer the COVID vaccine, even if you're not a medical professional. Bonus? You might get bumped up the vaccine waiting list in the process.

Am I Eligible To Volunteer To Administer The Vaccine?

You can't literally administer the vaccine just because you offer to. Only folks with certain medical qualifications will generally be able to give the vaccine injections.

"Anyone who is currently medically certified to perform routine immunizations and fully registered and cleared with our medical reserve volunteer program can administer the vaccine," says June Vutrano, the Medical Reserves Corps (MRC) coordinator at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health in Arizona. MRC is recruiting people in many different counties and states to volunteer to help with vaccination efforts.

Who tends to be certified to vaccinate folks? Think registered nurses, MDs, PAs, some EMTs, and some nursing or medical students. Exact qualifications may vary depending on the site. If you're a medical professional with some time and energy to share, actually giving folks shots is an option for you.

Can I Volunteer To Help With The Vaccine If I'm Not A Medical Professional?

At many vaccine distribution locations, there will be room for you to help out even if you don't have a medical background. In Maricopa County, for example, Vutrano says that non-medical vaccine volunteer roles will include registration, greeting people, traffic control, and general logistical support.

Some distribution centers' websites don't state explicitly that they would welcome non-medical volunteers to help with logistics, but many list email addresses for you to follow up with any and all questions about volunteering — so feel free to reach out and ask if you're serious about putting in the hours.

Will I Get Vaccinated Earlier If I Volunteer To Help With Distribution?

By venturing out to help your community get vaccinated, you're performing a great service — but due to the nature of the pandemic, you're also exposing yourself to extra risk. To offset that risk, vaccination distribution locations are offering early vaccines for their volunteers who wouldn't otherwise be qualified to get vaccinated yet.

"Volunteers are eligible to receive a vaccine if they volunteer at a vaccine Point of Dispensing (POD) or a site where we are providing vaccines, such as a senior facility," Vutrano tells Bustle of Maricopa County's policy. "They can receive this either the day of their service, or they leave with an appointment for the vaccine if the site has run out, as they are putting themselves at risk and need to be protected." Even if you're not actually giving out the shot yourself, you're still at higher risk and still eligible to be bumped up on the vaccine list. When you're looking to help out your community while also helping out your immune system, volunteering might be how you do it.

How Do I Volunteer To Administer The COVID Vaccine?

The first step to volunteering is always to check with your county's vaccine distribution locations to see what services are needed. A quick Google search of "vaccine distribution volunteer + your city" should do the trick to find the vaccine locations and what help they're seeking.

If you're not a medical professional, check to make sure they're accepting help from layfolk. In many cases, there will be a volunteer application form to fill out with your information; in others, you may be invited to inquire about volunteering via an email address listed on the distribution center's site.

"Volunteering in this great effort is a highly rewarding experience that really gives back to your community and helps saves lives, one at a time," Vutrano says. If you're up for it, reach out so you can give back.