By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans are using the power of social media to help each other get vaccinated faster.

A Facebook group started three weeks ago called “MN Vaccine Hunters.” It started out as a few friends and neighbors spreading the word about where to find available vaccine appointments. Today, it has over 10,000 members — and it’s helped many in the group get vaccinated.

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It was created by Maura Caldwell, a south Minneapolis mother of three who was inspired by the generosity of a friend.

“I was lucky enough to have a friend call and let me know that there were extra doses of the COVID vaccine at [Children’s Minnesota], three weeks ago today,” Caldwell said.

She rushed her 67- and 68-year-old mom and dad to Children’s, and her parents got their vaccine after four hours of waiting in line in the parking garage. However, the friend that tipped her off wasn’t able to get there in time before they ran out.

“I wanted to do nothing more than help her get this vaccine since she thought to tell me, and my parents were the beneficiaries,” Caldwell said.

This was the motivation Caldwell used to create the page, and now thousands have been beneficiaries to the resources shared, including Dianna Fuller of Plymouth.

“About a month and half ago [my husband] said, ‘Well honey, what do you want for your birthday?’ I said, ‘I want a vaccine,’” Fuller said.

Her wishes came true because of the Facebook group, when someone shared that the Walgreens pharmacy in Maple Grove had appointment availabilities. Fuller jumped on it, and landed an appointment on her birthday.

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(credit: CBS)

This Facebook group also brings to light some of the disparities in the vaccine rollout, including vaccinating people with disabilities who are under the age of 65. Richfield resident Heidi Randolph has not been able to get a vaccine appointment for son in Minnesota, despite all of his pre-existing conditions.

“[My son] is 38 and he has Down syndrome and several heart diseases, he’s immunocompromised,” Randolph said.

Then someone in the “MN Vaccine Hunters” group suggested they look at a neighboring state offering vaccines to people of any age with a disability.

“I wouldn’t have even have thought of finding out about going to another state until someone suggested it,” Randolph.

While these women have found what they need from this group, they are staying in it to help others find the same success.

“It’s become more of a team sport, and people trying to help everybody else get what they’re looking for,” Caldwell said.

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Nurses have volunteered to moderate the page and answer questions. If you’re not on Facebook, they also created a website that shares the information being posted to the page.

Marielle Mohs