Dear Rich Lifer,
It has been almost a full year since the Coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, changing everything about life as we knew it.
We have all faced incredible challenges, losses, frustrations and changes. Now that the Covid vaccine is becoming more widely available, we can look toward the future with more hope and optimism than many of us have had in 12 months.
However, it’s hard to maintain that sense of hope when it seems like the Covid vaccine has simply presented us with another hurdle: booking a vaccination appointment.
Americans across the nation are forced to grapple with complicated websites, tech errors, and appointment slots vanishing in a matter of seconds.
Many of those currently eligible for the vaccine are over the age of 65 and may not necessarily be the most tech-savvy group of individuals.
But regardless of whether you’re a 70-year-old with limited computer knowledge or a 35-year-old teacher with limited time to refresh appointment websites, we are here to help and to remind you that you are not alone in your struggles.
From national pharmacy chains to hospitals to supermarkets, every Covid-19 vaccination website comes with its own set of complications. So today, we will walk through some tips for how to book an appointment to get vaccinated with as little hair-pulling frustration as possible.
Please note, this advice is not for cutting the line; it is for those who are currently eligible for vaccination based on their state’s guidance.
Use Social Media
The U.S. lacks a centralized sign-up system, so everything is specific to the state or local ordinances.
One way to deal with this is by joining groups on social media that post the most up-to-date information and are often filled with people constantly scouting local websites and available appointments.
For example, if you have a Facebook you can search “Covid vaccine” and your state to find a local group. You can try this same search on Twitter if you have an account. Set up “push alerts” by tapping the little bell icon on the homepage of your local vaccination alert account. This will send you notifications every time new appointments are posted.
Many of these groups also have members who can help in-need seniors book appointments. However, it’s important to be smart about sharing your personal info with strangers, even if you need help. Only basic contact info like your name, birthday and address are needed to book an appointment. Never share passwords or Social Security numbers!
Set Up Autofill
In your computer browser, locate the autofill settings.
In Chrome, go to Settings > Autofill. In Microsoft Edge, Settings > Personal Information, then click the edit button. In Safari, Preferences > AutoFill > AutoFill web forms > Using information from my contacts.
This will allow you to store information like your full name, email address, home address and phone number, so when an appointment slot opens up, you don’t have to waste time filling in your information and risk losing your potential appointment.
Sometimes there are thousands of people waiting for a few spots, and anything helps when it comes to getting your information in as fast as possible.
Familiarize Yourself with Appointment Websites
When it comes to nailing down an appointment time, it’s important to do your research. Depending on the local pharmacy you use, familiarize yourself with their website and find the web page that is used to book appointments.
Each pharmacy is slightly different. For example, Walgreens requires that you have an account to book an appointment, so making one ahead of time is key.
Once you have the appropriate links, bookmark them so that you can quickly and easily access important sites.
Make Use of Browser Extensions
It can be difficult to stay up-to-date on multiple sites and keep your eye out for appointments 24/7. This is why you should let browser extension be your extra vigilant side-kick on the journey to vaccination!
Here are a few easy extensions you can download:
- Page Refresh – this extension will refresh the page you’re on every few seconds or minutes, without you having to click anything. It’s available on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, and the developer says the app does not collect user data.
- Visualping – this extension watches your browser for you. Basically, you tell the extension what website to monitor, and then you highlight the part of the site that you expect to change—in this case, something that reads “no appointments” or “appointments booked” would be smart to monitor. If it changes, you get a computer notification or an email alert. The only downside to Visualping browser extension is that the free version is limited to pinging you once an hour up to 65 times a month. So it may be worth it to pay for one of their subscription upgrades, which range from $13 to $97 a month.
Last Minute Booking Tips
When the fateful time arrives, and you find yourself screen to face with an available appointment, stay calm.
It’s important to move through the site and get your information filled in quickly without skipping over important information or forgetting to fill in crucial details. Both these scenarios could result in you ultimately losing your slot.
Generally, you can skip adding insurance info which takes extra time. Instead, simply show your insurance card at your appointment.
Additionally, if you have multiple options pop up for appointment times, choose a slot that is roughly in the middle of the available options. Most people tend to go for the first available date and time they see, but this can backfire if someone else gets their online information filled out faster than you.
We know this whole process can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening, but with these tips and tricks hopefully you will be as well prepared as possible to snag that appointment and take one step closer to “normalcy.”
To a Richer Life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team