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How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? Everything to know

We'll explain where to start if you want to find and schedule a coronavirus vaccine appointment.

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How to find and book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Roughly 148 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country so far -- that's nearly half of the US population. However, that leaves over 100 million people still waiting for a chance to get vaccinated. President Biden recently announced that all states should open up vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1, which means that everyone who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can schedule an appointment very soon. But for people who are currently eligible, figuring out how to get a shot, where to get it and setting up an appointment is an uphill battle. 

How and where you can sign up for a vaccine appointment varies based on the state and county you live in. But in general, the majority of vaccine sign-ups are happening online -- which is also a barrier to vaccine access for older people and people of color. Since vaccine eligibility and rollout is an ever-evolving topic, there are several tools and resources to use to help make the process easier to navigate. Keep reading to find out where to start if you're looking for a vaccine appointment and other tips for navigating the process.

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Making a COVID-19 vaccine appointment: How to do it

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Vaccine Finder is one tool that can help you locate a COVID-19 vaccine appointment near you.

Screenshot by Mercey Livingston/CNET

The first step to finding a vaccine appointment is to determine if you are eligible. Eligibility varies based on your state, so check with your local health department by visiting its website or calling if you are unsure if you are eligible. Vaccines.gov is a good place to start to help locate your health department and find your state's eligibility requirements. 

You can also use the VaccineFinder tool to help you find pharmacies, clinics, and other places in your area that are distributing the vaccine. If you are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, continue checking in with your state health department for updated guidelines -- especially since President Biden recently directed states to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1. 

The administration also announced plans to launch a Find a Vaccine website and a 1-800 toll-free phone number to assist Americans in locating a vaccine appointment -- but we don't know exactly when the site will launch, other than around May 1. 

Once you locate vaccine providers in your area, see if you can sign up for updates or ask if they have a list and can call you when a vaccine is available. Following the local providers and your state health departments on social media is also helpful since they often post vaccine updates. Unfortunately, not everyone will announce when they get more vaccines, so sometimes the best strategy is regularly checking in or calling the vaccine providers near you. 

You should also check with your doctor or other healthcare providers, as some clinics and doctor's offices also have vaccines and may be able to help you find a vaccine appointment there.

Read more: Use Facebook to book your COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Here's how

How to schedule a coronavirus vaccine with a pharmacy

Pharmacies including CVS, Walmart Pharmacy and Walgreens are distributing COVID-19 vaccines, and each pharmacy has its own process for signing up or making an appointment. 

If you are struggling to find an appointment on these websites, the best strategy for now is to continue checking the appointment sites daily in order to try to catch new appointments as they are added. You can also try following your local pharmacies on social media if they have local accounts. If all else fails, call them and ask for updates on vaccine availability and ask if you can be added to a waitlist so you'll be notified when new appointments are added.

CVS

CVS Pharmacy and some Target locations with CVS Pharmacies are distributing vaccines. The vaccines are by appointment only, and you can schedule them online.

Schedule an appointment at CVS here.

Walmart Pharmacy

Walmart Pharmacy and some Sam's Club locations are offering vaccines by appointment. You will need to schedule the vaccine online through Walmart's vaccine scheduler. 

Schedule an appointment at Walmart here

Schedule an appointment at Sam's Club here.

Walgreens 

Walgreens is offering vaccines at select locations. In order to find out about availability, you can check if your state is listed on the website and then create a Walgreens account to find appointments or sign up for updates on vaccines in your area.

Schedule an appointment at Walgreens here.

Sign up for Walgreens vaccine updates here. 

Hop on a waitlist for leftover vaccines

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Dr. B is a standby list for leftover COVID-19 vaccines.

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COVID-19 vaccines are in high demand, but sometimes providers end up with extra doses due to no-shows, cancellations or other logistical issues. Once a vaccine vial is opened, the vaccine must be distributed within a certain time frame, or it has to be discarded. For this reason, many people are looking to get on waitlists or standby lines to get leftover vaccines. Getting a leftover shot is kind of like winning the lottery -- it's possible, but not very likely. Some tools are popping up that allow you to get alerts when extra doses may be available, which make the process easier and less risky than going to stand in a line with other unvaccinated people. 

One tool for finding extra vaccine doses is Dr. B, which is a standby list for leftover vaccines. Once you register on the site, you are put on a standby list for extra doses in your area. Dr. B works with local providers to determine availability, and if vaccines open up, they will text you and you have to respond within 15 minutes to confirm the appointment. To register, you have to list your eligibility status, which is how Dr. B prioritizes people on the list based on state guidelines. 

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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 about a medical condition or health objectives.