Over a year into the two-week lockdown, there are still a lot of questions about COVID-19 and even more questions about the vaccines. If you, like most of us, aren’t sure how or where to get vaccinated, you’ll be happy to know it’s getting easier and easier as more people are vaccinated.
As of March 2021, three vaccines are being given in the United States. The Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, and the newest one by Johnson & Johnson. If you’re able to choose between the three, the Johnson & Johnson only requires one dose while the others need two. Usually, you won’t be able to choose, but it’s still good to know the options.
While only three vaccines have been approved as of writing this blog, there are two in the late stages of clinical trials. The Novavax vaccine, which is currently seeking FDA approval, and the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is already being used in Europe, are both strong contenders for combating COVID-19.
Are You Eligible?
On March 11th, President Joe Biden directed that states ensure everyone is eligible for the vaccine by May 1st, 2021. Most states have announced rollout plans to make that deadline, but many have also expanded eligibility to everyone ahead of May 1st, so it’s still a good idea to check your state/ county health website.
By the end of March 2021, over a dozen states had already expanded eligibility regardless of age or risk. Despite eligibility being completely rolled out, though, some groups continue to have priority when it comes to securing appointments to get the vaccine.
In that vein, being eligible doesn’t automatically secure you a vaccine, but it is the first step towards getting one, and it means you can at least get in line. Even if you aren’t quite eligible yet, it’s a good idea to sign up ahead of time; states will often have an automated system in place that will notify you of when you become eligible according to local guidelines.
If you check around your area, you will probably find some clinics that have walk-in appointments every day for vaccines. The hard part about these is that the slots fill up fast, so unless you can get there super early, it’s hard to get your dose. As time goes on, it will get easier for clinics to keep up with demand, but I wouldn’t recommend depending on them.
Other larger clinics and pharmacies also have appointments for vaccines, but it can be difficult to snag a spot. Even if you do, it will be weeks out, so there will still be a wait. National pharmacies like Kroger, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS have all been receiving vaccine doses regularly, so if you keep checking their websites, you might be able to get an appointment.
County Vaccine Site
A lot of counties have set up mass vaccination sites to administer vaccines. They are only open to those eligible still, but your local county health website will have the details about signing up. If you aren’t sure where the vaccination sites are, the county health site will also tell you where the nearest one is.
If the county health site isn’t helpful, you can check out the Center for Disease Control’s website. There you’ll be able to input your zip code to find local pharmacies vaccinating and information about which vaccine they are using too.
If you have any questions about the vaccine, about side effects, or anything else related to the vaccine, you’ll be able to find it on the CDC’s website as well.
Ask Your Doctor
The best place to find out how to get a vaccine is going to be through your doctor. Your doctor will be your best advocate and will be more knowledgeable about what is happening on the local level with vaccine availability. They will be the first to know where they are available, when you will be eligible, and anything else relevant to you.
Talking to your doctor also means you won’t be tearing your hair out trying to find an appointment or staking out a small clinic trying to get one of the barely 100 doses they can give out each day. My family was trying for weeks to get a vaccine for my grandmother, but she had an appointment to get her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine within days of calling her doctor.
While you’re tracking down a vaccine, it’s important to follow the advice of health advisors. Wear a mask while you’re out in public and avoid crowds until you are vaccinated. It isn’t fun, and it has been a really rough year, but we’ll make it through. The more vaccines given out, the closer we get to the end. Herd immunity and all that, right?
Patience is the key. While you’re biding your time, you can read up on our blog series about healthy sleep practices. Good sleep is, after all, one of the best ways of staying healthy and reducing stress.
Have you tried to get a vaccine for yourself or someone else?