Shelley Rosmarin helps oversee VacSeen’s grassroots efforts
By Amy W. Sorter
When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, the more people who are immunized, the higher the level of herd immunity, and the less risk of spread. Furthermore, one good way to encourage vaccination is for those who have been immunized to let others know they are doing well. As such, many are taking to social media to let their friends, neighbors and relatives know that they received the Moderna or Pfizer immunizations.
And now, there is VacSeen. VacSeen is a bright blue silicon bracelet (similar to the Livestrong cancer bands). Printed with the words “VacSeen” and “Band Together,” the bracelets signal to others that you’ve been vaccinated. Leading the effort to get more VacSeen bracelets around more wrists throughout the United States are the developers, Greg Akselrod and Ian Mikutel, both of whom live in Seattle. Assisting the duo in this grassroots outreach effort is Shelley Rosmarin, born-and-bred Dallasite and current Seattle resident.
Rosmarin is the daughter of A.J. and Suellen Rosmarin. A.J. is the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas board chair and a board member of Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas. A graduate of Greenhill School, their daughter gained impressive health care and business credentials through her education (bachelor’s degree in business from University of Texas and a Master of Healthcare Administration from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) and on-the-job experience. Her resume includes stints at UNC Healthcare and Emory Healthcare; she currently has a managerial role with ECG Management Consultants, a health care consulting company in Seattle. And, when she learned about Akselrod’s and Mikutel’s efforts, she wanted to use her health care administrative and business background to help boost awareness of VacSeen.
“Greg is one of my closest friends. He’s Jewish, he’s from New Jersey, and we met about five and a half years ago, when I moved to Seattle,” she said. Rosmarin is currently in touch with health care organizational contacts, colleagues and friends. “We’re working on developing more exposure through word of mouth,” she said. “The best marketing methods are through the community and people you know.”
The VacSeen concept is a social signal, one geared to improve confidence in, and reduce skepticism of, the COVID vaccine. “People who might be hesitant to get the vaccine see a friend, family or neighbor wearing the bracelet. This increases the comfort level connected with the vaccine,” Rosmarin said.
The vaccinated VacSeen wearer can also feel a sense of pride in taking part to halt community spread of the coronavirus. Rosmarin likens the bracelets to the “I Voted” stickers people proudly place on clothing, smartphones and other gear, following visits to polling places. “What’s better about a bracelet is that it lasts longer than a sticker,” she commented. Additionally, 50% of proceeds earned through the sale of VacSeen bands go to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 solidarity response fund.
VacSeen is a relatively new startup, coming on the scene in late 2019. A recently concluded Kickstarter campaign reached 1,100% of the initial fundraising goal, providing Akelrod and Mikutel with additional capital to increase production and distribution. One goal is to distribute bulk orders of VacSeen bands to healthcare providers and agencies offering coronavirus vaccines. As people are vaccinated, they receive the bracelets. Bulk orders have so far been delivered to agencies in Idaho and New York. According to Rosmarin, the New York organization has reordered, requesting five times the original amount in the first order. Meanwhile, those who have been vaccinated can also buy their own band(s) at https://store.vacseen.org/.
The overall goal of the VacSeen bracelet isn’t so much verification — anyone can go online and order one of the bands, whether they’ve been immunized or not. Rather, the VacSeen bands are in place to promote understanding that COVID-19 vaccines are essential to boost herd immunity, eventually stopping the virus in its tracks. “This is meant to make the vaccine more visible to the public,” Rosmarin said.
For additional information about VacSeen, log on to https://store.vacseen.org/.