Ethan Gilbert ’22 Spearheads VACs for Vax

When Ethan Gilbert ’22 heard Head of School Audrius Barzdukas P’20 say at a recent Town Hall that teachers were finding it difficult to get appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations, he took it to heart and proved that one person can make a difference.

Ethan Gilbert ’22
Ethan Gilbert ’22

“In my house,” Gilbert said, “my family faced the same dilemma with two grandparents over the age of eighty. We decided to take it into our own hands, and managed to book appointments for both of them. Over the next couple of weeks I managed to secure over a dozen appointments for friends and family. I came to the realization that if I could make appointments for the people close to me, then why couldn’t I do the same for our Poly teachers.” He named the project VACs (Vaccine Appointment Crew) for Vax.

The idea was inspired by Mr. Barzdakus’ words during the Town Hall,” Gilbert explained.  “In order for all of us to get back to school, we need to protect our teachers from the virus. In other words, it is a necessity for teachers to be vaccinated. It’s not an easy task as the supply of the vaccine is uncertain, and millions of New Yorkers are contending for a limited number of appointments. I saw an opportunity to help out my community during these uncertain times.”

So far I have secured about seven appointments for teachers with one getting her vaccine dose last night,” Gilbert said. “There is a growing list of teachers needing vaccine appointments. I’m working with faculty members to start growing a volunteer team.” 

In an email, Head of Upper School Sarah Bates told faculty, “Ethan has mastered the online vaccine scheduling software and would love to help any faculty member who may have trouble getting an appointment. All you need to do is complete his survey and he’ll be in touch.” 

Sarah Zuercher NP, Director of Health and Well-being
Sarah Zuercher

Sarah Zuercher NP, Director of Health and Well-being also let faculty know about VACs for Vax. “Helping our employees get vaccinated is key to protecting our employees from COVID and crucial to returning to a more normal version of school,” she said. “Many people in our Poly community have struggled to find appointments because vaccine supply is so limited and the websites to find appointments are cumbersome and time consuming. Ethan’s idea to put his tech skills to use to start VACs for Vax and help teachers connect to vaccine appointments was just amazing and so touching. We are so grateful to Ethan for donating his time and talents to this effort!”

Zuercher continues to keep faculty and staff informed about the vaccine, how it works, side effects, and more and has hosted information sessions along with Dr. Ali Lee P’31, ’34 and Dr. Melissa Alvarez-Downing P’32, ’34, ’35. Ethan Gilbert ’22 has joined in to discuss his student-led initiative to connect teachers to vaccine appointments.

If you are a member of the Poly community would like Ethan and the VACs for Vax team to assist in booking a vaccine appointment for you, please complete their request form here.