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Tips for Getting COVID Vaccinations at Major Pharmacies

This is good information for those "on the hunt!"

by Eric Holdeman / March 4, 2021

My wife and I have been on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccination ever since they became available, so we know the trials and tribulations of trying to find an appointment at any variety of sources. The word "frustrating" comes to mind immediately. We are almost across the finish line in our own quest. My wife gets her first one this Friday and my second will be next Tuesday. 

I came across this information in a Wall Street Journal article and thought it would be helpful to many people who are or will be looking for a place to get vaccinated. Hopefully the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help with availability — including at our doctor's offices.

"If you’d like to get a vaccine through one of the big pharmacy chains, here are some specific tips:

"CVS: Start with the vaccine screening tool, a questionnaire about you and your eligibility. At the end, you land on a page where you input your ZIP Code and search for appointments. Keep clicking the ZIP Code to see whether new appointments have been added. If you get a slot, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire longer than a mortgage application. Select 'Don’t Know' if you’re moving fast and don’t have time to read each question. For the East Coast, it seems big chunks of new appointments appear around 6 a.m.

"Rite Aid: Start with the vaccine scheduler or this eligibility guide. After you’ve input your personal information in the scheduler, you’ll get a list of local stores that offer the vaccine. You actually need to select a location and press 'Next' in the bottom right to see whether there’s availability. Go through the whole list of stores like this to see whether any have appointments. There are reports in many states of new appointments appearing around midnight Eastern Time. The Rite Aid spokesman said it’s best to check for new appointments frequently.

"Walgreens: Start with the vaccine-availability checker. Unlike the others, Walgreens requires that you have an account to book, so create one beforehand with all necessary information. Make sure you remain logged in on your browser. Walgreens also offers phone booking at 1-800-Walgreens. I have heard reports that new appointments appear at midnight. A Walgreens spokeswoman said timing varies based on inventory and appointment availability.

"I didn’t use Walmart or any of the smaller pharmacy chains, but I suggest leaning on your local Facebook groups for information about timing and other site tips."

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