A new project is looking to recruit local volunteers to help with COVID-19 vaccinations.

VacCorps is a non-profit network that aims to connect volunteers—“non-traditional vaccinators” along with health science, laboratory personnel, and support staff—with vaccination providers and centers.

“By mobilizing volunteers as support staff, vaccination providers can increase capacity without further taxing the healthcare system that is providing for COVID-19 patients,” according to the agency’s website. 

VacCorps wants to enroll 1,000 volunteers by March 1, and enroll 50 vaccination providers sometime that month.

Volunteers can sign up for a variety of roles—from greeting to stocking to interpreting—on its website. There are also remote options for appointment and volunteer scheduling for those who don’t want to or can’t volunteer in-person.

The nonprofit is North Carolina-focused, for now, but hopes to expand the services nationwide.

“Currently, there is no centralized location for providers to find volunteers,” according to the website. “Large university and private health systems have their own volunteer sign-ups, but their pool is limited to employees.”

The nonprofit also notes that the state has a certified vaccinator registry, but it does not include people that can fill “non-vaccinating roles.”

VacCorps points out that professional organizations—such as the N.C. Board of Pharmacists—have a registry, “but it is unknown if non-traditional professions, including dentists and veterinarians,” have a similar system.

Connecting volunteers to underserved communities across the state that lack access to large healthcare networks is one of the organization’s priorities.

“There must be a way to connect underserved areas to pools of workers,” the website states.

The nonprofit’s organizing strategy includes creating a vaccine registry where volunteers can enter information into a database, and establishing a vaccine provider request form that will enable providers “to enter their needs for volunteers.”

VacCorps was founded by Cathrine Leonowens, a Durham-based quantitative clinical pharmacology consultant who previously worked at Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, and Duke University’s Human Vaccine Institute, according to her LinkedIn. Leonowens personally funded the nonprofit and will now rely on fundraising to fuel the agency’s growth.

Learn more about volunteering.

Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to tmcdonald@indyweek.com.

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