Can't get a Covid-19 vaccination appointment? Here are some tips — if you're eligible
Hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses have been administered so far in Washington state.
But vaccine supplies are now extremely tight, and many people say they are having a tough time getting an appointment.
The process requires access to and savvy with a computer, and often times, superhuman amounts of patience. We've got some tips for securing a vaccination appointment.
UPDATED Feb. 25, 2021:
In Washington state, once you know you are eligible (see instructions below), here is where you can start your search.
WA Covid Vaccine Finder
Over the past few weeks, volunteer software engineers and technologists have come up with a website that aggregates information from hundreds of vaccine providers to show you where appointments are available. This site is meant to be a one-stop shop so you don't have to search endlessly on the internet: https://www.covidwa.com/
Find a Covid Shot WA Facebook Group
Also, on a Facebook group called "Find a Covid Shot WA," volunteers and group members post when shots are available and also can help you find an appointment. The group is private so you have to ask to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/findacovidshotwa/
Here is KUOW's story about both of these initiatives.
Nationally, a new site is beginning to aggregate providers in the same way that covidwa.com does. The site is called VaccineFinder. (https://vaccinefinder.org/).
So far, data for Washington state seems very limited. Here is NPR's story on this effort.
Here's how to check your eligibility
Right now, the state is vaccinating anyone who qualifies under phase 1A and people eligible under the first tier of phase 1B. That includes: Health care and emergency workers, residents and employees in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, people over the age of 65, and people over 50 who live in multigenerational households.
'People who work in health care settings' is another potentially broad category, which can include members of the clergy or people who volunteer at vaccine clinics.
A website and app, Washington Phase Finder, will help you determine your eligibility. Essentially an honor system, the state is relying on people to tell the truth as they seek out vaccinations. But people have been jumping the line, as KUOW recently reported.
So where do you find appointments?
First check the three sites listed at the top of this story:
Also, check with your regular health care provider. We've heard from a number of people who signed up early with UW Medicine Northwest Hospital, Kaiser, and MultiCare, and received their appointments quickly and easily.
Some providers, like Polyclinic, are receiving very small allotments of the vaccine-- just 100 doses a week-- so they are distributing them via random lottery. You don't sign up, they will inform you if you have been chosen.
If your primary care provider doesn’t have appointments, this is where it gets tricky. There are hundreds of different providers that are approved to administer the vaccine. They range from large hospital systems to QFC stores.
This interactive map from the Washington Department of Health shows their locations.
The difficulty is that in most cases you have to visit the websites individually to see if appointments are available. Some people report checking websites every day or multiple times a day. We've heard people find success checking in the middle of the night, or very first thing in the morning.
Here are direct links to some of the sites:
- Safeway Albertsons
- Seattle Visiting Nurses Association (Lynnwood, Edmonds)
- Sea Mar -Community Health Centers
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- International Health Community Services
- CHI Franciscan
- Costco (you will need to book at individual stores. Check Department of Health website)
- VA Puget Sound Healthcare System (for veterans already receiving care there)
Most of these sites do not seem to have waitlists. A couple of exceptions:
- Virginia Mason
- Skagit Regional Health
- Seattle Children’s Hospital: email firstname.lastname@example.org
What about mass vaccination clinics?
As of Wednesday, February 3, the following mass vaccination sites are not taking new appointments due to a lack of vaccine supply. Check for future appointments:
- Swedish at Seattle U Mass Vaccination Clinic
- Virginia Mason Mass Vaccination Clinics at Amazon
- Snohomish County Mass Vaccination Clinics
- King County Mass Vaccination Sites (in South King County)
- Pierce County Vaccine Events
- City of Seattle (mobile firefighter units are vaccinating high-risk adults, including residents and workers in adult family homes and supportive housing)
- Pop-up clinics are being held for various high-risk groups.
Where can I get help?
Crisis Connections is offering assistance to people looking for a vaccine.
A Facebook group called "Find a COVID shot in WA" is also offering help, especially to vulnerable communities and people at highest risk.
Additionally, KING 5 profiled a group of retirees in Tacoma who are matching people with appointments.
If all else fails, you might ask a tech savvy friend or family member to help you.
Vaccine allocation is expected to improve next week. The Biden administration this week announced it will begin to ship one million vaccines per week, directly to pharmacies on February 11.
Until then, be patient, be persistent, and wear a mask.
This story will be updated as more information on vaccine distribution and appointments becomes available.