Many Americans have been trying for weeks to secure their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. It can be a frustrating and often futile process trying to navigate poorly designed websites to obtain an opening at the many pharmacies and other venues offering the injections.
Even computer-savvy people say that they’ve been stymied, according to The Wall Street Journal. Contributor Joanna Stern, who has been writing about computers for decades, found booking a vaccine appointment impossible. She turned to a top IT expert, Kris Slevens, who has booked appointments for over 350 New Jersey seniors, for tips.
He suggests finding a local social media outlet to help. Slevens moderates such a group to help in-need, eligible seniors get their vaccines. Be careful not to share more personal information than needed, warns Stern. “I know that only basic contact info — name, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address — is usually needed,” she writes. Go to Facebook and search for your state to find groups offering assistance in securing COVID-19 vaccines.
Announcing vaccine availability through social media can provide instant and timely updates, according to Verywell Health. Some local governments, health departments, and medical institutions immediately announce when there is vaccine availability.
Stern adds that many people have set up Twitter accounts with vaccine alerts such as the Maryland-based MDVaxAlerts. By tapping on the bell icon, you receive notification when there are new openings.
The second tip is to find a suitable location to get your vaccine and log on to its website. “Find the page that tells you whether vaccines are available, and the page where you book an appointment,” says Stern, explaining that the two may be different. CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens all have websites that can help you book appointments. Stern says that often new appointments open around midnight at these pharmacies.
Slevens suggest establishing autofill settings in your browser that include all your information so when it is time to book your appointment, you do not waste a moment typing or even copying and pasting your info.
“Any way that you can get a millisecond faster than the other person is crucial,” he tells the Journal.
Stern also recommends using a browser extension called Page Refresh, a free app that automatically refreshes the page you are using. When you are able to book, do so quickly but carefully, says the expert.
Slevens suggests aiming for the available slots that are somewhere in the middle of the time frame offered since the first slots are grabbed immediately.
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