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Coronavirus

Insider tech tips for scheduling your COVID-19 vaccination

These days, COVID vaccinations are highly coveted. But complex obstacles are blocking us from obtaining herd immunity. For example, each state has different rules on who can get vaccinated, where they go and how the process works. 

When you’ve got tons of channels to navigate through, it’s tough to find answers for the simplest questions, like whether you’re even eligible to get immunized. Tap or click here to find out when you can get the vaccine. After that step’s done, it’s time for step two: schedule your vaccination.

If you’re struggling to book a vaccination, know that you’re not alone. Social media is blowing up with complaints about the mazelike vaccine-booking websites. Luckily, we’ve got six helpful tricks for snatching a spot ASAP.

1. Know where to go

First off, you can save a ton of time by heading to the right channels. Since the rules vary so wildly depending on your state, NPR created a helpful tool full of local resources. Just select your state or jurisdiction and you can immediately find nearby vaccine providers.

If that doesn’t work, head to your state’s official site or pharmacy chains, if those are available where you live. The government is sending vaccines not only to states but to chain pharmacies as well. Here’s how you can get a vaccine at three of the biggest pharmacies:

CVS

First, head to the pharmacy’s map for COVID-19 vaccinations. Then, scroll down to the section labeled “Vaccine available in select CVS Pharmacy locations.” Tap on your state. From there, you’ll get detailed information on eligibility, as well as any available appointment information.

Walgreens

To schedule an appointment with Walgreens, first sign in to your pharmacy account. You’ll complete a short eligibility screening, and then the site will look for available appointments in your area.

Walgreens also has a handy tool that searches for openings within a 25-mile radius of your ZIP code. Tap or click here to try it out.

Rite Aid

For updated information on vaccine eligibility in your area and to schedule an appointment at Rite Aid, view its Eligibility Guide here.

Of course, these are far from your only options. Tap or click here for the full list of pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

2. Create alerts for new vaccine openings in your area

Since demand outweighs supply, you’ve got a lot of competition for vaccine openings. People want to beat you to the punch, so you need more than your fingers and your eyes — you need a specialized tool to get your foot in the door.

That’s where Visualping comes in. This tool lets you keep your eyes on the page — even when you’re away from the computer. It’s a website or browser extension you use to monitor other websites.

It may sound confusing, but it’s actually pretty simple. First, tell Visualping what website you want it to watch. In this case, let’s choose the CVS vaccination page.

As you can tell, every CVS offering vaccinations in Arizona is fully booked. If you want to monitor this page to see when there’s an opening, insert the URL into Visualping. Then, tap Go.

Visualping throws up an image of the website, and you have to move around its selection box to find the section you want to monitor. Highlight the section of the page that corresponds to appointments. Your screen will look something like this:

Now, whenever there’s a change, you’ll be the first to know.

3. Save your info so you can enter it ASAP

Autofill is a time-saving feature that automatically fills a website’s forms with your saved data, from your name to your address. When you’re rushing to sign up for a vaccination appointment, every second counts. If you’re a slow typist, someone might fill out their information more quickly and steal your spot.

There are two ways to solve this issue. First, you can set up autofill in your browser, but this convenient feature comes with a ton of risks. Tap or click here for some insider secrets on autofill, passwords and security flaws.

Secondly, you could create a Word or Excel document with all your information, so you’re not typing it up each time. Include your name, phone number, address, insurance ID and more.

Make sure to delete this information from your browser or document once you’re done, though. You don’t want to give any bad-faith actors the chance to steal your secrets.

4. Check out local resources

When you’re scrolling through official websites, it’s easy to get dizzy from all the jargon. After hours of researching and squinting at the screen, you might start to see the words on your PC or phone as nothing more than complex mumbo jumbo. In times like these, you should head to a more accessible source: social media.

Tons of folks like you are banding together to help one another stay safe and get their vaccines. Facebook groups are popping up throughout the country, full of members searching local websites and sharing new appointment openings. Just type your state and the keywords COVID vaccine into Facebook’s search engine and you’ll find active groups full of passionate people.

They can even help seniors book appointments — but, of course, never share your personal information with anyone. If you meet a helpful person online, remember that they don’t need your passwords or Social Security number. Despite potential security threats, these social media groups are a helpful break from the informative yet inaccessible vaccine websites you’ll scroll through.

TRY THIS TRICK: Simple way to protect your privacy on social media sites

If you don’t have a Facebook account, head to Twitter instead. Tons of state accounts tweet minute-to-minute updates about appointment openings near you.

Search your state and COVID vaccine into the engine and you should find some great accounts to follow. If you want to get the latest news immediately, enable push notifications so you can beat the competition and sign up for vaccination.

For more tips and help, check other resources like local libraries. You should follow your state or county’s social media feeds as well as your state’s Department of Health Services accounts.

5. Booking for more than one person? Get all your gadgets ready

If you’re booking appointments for multiple people, have two different computers ready to go. You likely want to make sure you can get appointments simultaneously, and it’s easier to snag them quickly when you have two machines going. This trick won’t work for phones, though, since many vaccine sites are nearly impossible to navigate on a handheld gadget.

Speaking of having multiple devices, you probably know that with tech comes countless cables. TVs, sound systems, desktop computers and monitors can lead to a massive heap of out-of-control cords.

It’s easy to get confused about which cable belongs to what. If you struggle to remember which port to plug a device into, we have a simple solution. Tap or click here to take control of all those cables and cords.

6. Get there early

Once slots open up, sites are flooded with people trying to make an appointment. When a herd of traffic stampedes towards a site, you need to run quickly to beat the crowd.

Here’s a final trick you can use to sign up for a highly-coveted appointment. In addition to all the steps above, you should also try to grab a time slot a few minutes before it was scheduled to open.

This technique requires planning, but it worked for Komando Content Director Allie. Last month, new vaccine slots were announced here in Phoenix and she wanted to get two appointments for her parents.

The state health department said slots would open up for booking at 9 a.m. sharp. Allie was on the site long before getting profiles set up. Around 8:55, she hit refresh and saw vaccine slots populating. By being just a little early, she was able to avoid the rush.

Within minutes, the site was slowing down and within 38 minutes, all the slots were gone. Allie had two booked by 8:58.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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