Justin Spiro, 36 and Jeremy Novich, 36, Vaccine Accessibility Mavens


@jusrangers / jeremynovichpsyd.com

The Jewish Week’s annual 36 Under 36 honors young leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers who are making a difference in the life of Jewish New York. For the full list of this year’s “36ers,” click here.

What do you do?

Along with our partner Jason Lowe, we noticed how difficult it was to find scarce vaccine appointments back in January. It was especially challenging for older adults, precisely the population most in need of the vaccine. We began booking appointments for elderly family members and neighbors. Through word of mouth and social media, demand for the service grew, and we recruited a team of a dozen volunteers to book the hundreds of requests coming into a makeshift website. In February, we joined Brydge Health, collaboratively helping more than 6,000 people get vaccine appointments.

How did the pandemic affect your work?

The initial poor vaccine rollout created the opportunity for us to jump in and help the most vulnerable members of our community. Had there been no pandemic, or had the vaccine rollout kicked off in a way that effectively prioritized and protected older adults, our initiative would have never existed.

How does your Jewish identity influence your work?

Jeremy: To me, being Jewish is, at least in part, about being a mensch. Assisting older folks get a life-saving vaccine not only saves their lives, but also gives them a sense of feeling cared for. If that’s not an opportunity to be a mensch, I don’t know what is.

Justin: Judaism teaches that saving one life is akin to saving an entire world. Booking vaccines was difficult work, and we’d often spend hours agonizing over finding a good appointment for someone. But that Jewish adage kept us focused and motivated, knowing how important every life is.

What’s a fun fact about you?

Jeremy: I used to practice Krav Maga fairly intensely. I also hug quite well. So some might call me a lover AND a fighter.

Justin: I’ve been known to be a (very) amateur meteorologist, especially during snowstorms!

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