An alarm clock blares at 3 a.m. waking Emma Zizza – it’s time to schedule another COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
Scrambling to the electronic device of her choice, she pulls up the CVS website in hopes of booking one of the newly dropped appointments.
Since February, Zizza said she has scheduled over 50 appointments.
Zizza graduated from the University of Alabama in 2019, and is now a part of FSU’s PBTL Program with a focus in early childhood education.
She began helping people find COVID-19 vaccine appointments following the booking of her own, she said.
Zizza added for many people, booking appointments can be difficult because the system can be complicated and some people struggle with technology. Therefore, she began helping friends, family members, and co-workers.
“Before I knew it, I was booking appointments for everybody I knew, and even some people I didn’t know,” she said.
Zizza said she is both reaching out to people and receiving requests for help from people through Facebook, text, calls, and face-to-face.
“Once I know that somebody needs an appointment, I can’t stop thinking about it,” she added. “I am constantly checking. I have like 18 tabs open. I get all the notifcations when the appointments drop. I can’t stop until the appointments are booked.
“I’ll wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning for the seat,” she added.
Zizza said she believes getting vaccinated is important.
“I think that it’s the best way that the pandemic is going to end,” she added. “The more people that are vaccinated the better.
“I just want to help, and I want the pandemic to get better,” she said.
Zizza said the hardest part of her work is when people have tight schedules.
“I think the best approach is you go when you go – you get what you get, and you don’t get upset,” she added. “If you have an appointment, take the appointment.”
She said another part she finds frustrating is the systems used to schedule the appointments, where “one thing will go wrong and they’ll cancel the appointment.
“I do think there’s ways that it could be simpler for people to book the appointments,” Zizza added. “I don’t think it should be this hard for people.”
Zizza said she will be continuing this work as long as she can help, adding she is happy with the work and seeing the excitement people get in getting their appointments.
She said the most rewarding part of the work is when people get their vaccine and send her messages of excitement and photos of their vaccination cards, and knowing these people will be able to reunite with friends and family.
Zizza added she has even had a friend call her crying tears of joy because they were so happy.
She said if “anybody needs appointments, let me know. I’m just happy to do a very small part in ending the pandemic.”
James Cressey, professor and chair of the Education Department, said he first heard about the work Zizza has been doing in one of his education classes.
While discussing check-ins pertaining to the students’ field study placements, the class discussed teacher eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccination, Zizza shared what she has been doing, according to Cressey.
“It’s frustrating to see how inaccessible the system is, and that the teachers would need someone to then go and help them navigate that system, but I wasn’t surprised that our students would be doing that type of thing,” he said.
“Our education students are especially in tune with service to others,” Cressey added. “They’re going into this profession that’s all about being a community helper.”
Cressey said he was impressed with Zizza’s work and service.
He added, “It’s a point of pride for the Education Department to know that our students go above and beyond.”