116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
What's the secret to getting a COVID-19 vaccine appointment?
Persistence, and an unwillingness to take no for an answer.
Renee Dietrich is a Cedar Rapids native who has scheduled a dozen vaccine appointments for family members, friends and herself since February. Though luck may play a part, she said she's had to learn a few tricks to find appointments.
Every Iowan is expected to qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5, regardless of age or health status, the governor announced last week. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and up, while Pfizer-BioNTech's shot is approved for anyone 16 and older.
While the supply of doses is expected to increase in the coming weeks, public health officials continue to warn that the demand is much higher than the supply. Because of that, appointments are limited.
Resources are available to help Iowans find a vaccine. Those 65 and older can call the state's 211 hotline to reach a vaccine navigator to help schedule an appointment. Other resources, including the @IAVaccine Alerts Twitter page created by an Iowa City web developer, send alerts when an appointment becomes available at a retail pharmacy.
But still, some Iowans may struggle to get that appointment. Dietrich shared some tips on what worked for her to find appointments through retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens and Hy-Vee.
People looking to schedule appointments should find out what each website requires to schedule an appointment and have that information gathered head of time. Because appointment slots are available only for a short amount of time, Dietrich said having that information on hand will help speed up the process.
'The key is figuring out what you need to have ahead of time,” she said.
It also helps to find out when new appointments are posted online.
For the most part, Dietrich found slots opened up overnight, or very early in the morning. She said she rarely found an appointment slot being posted during the day.
Leave options open
Iowans shouldn't put their eggs all in one basket, but instead try snagging appointments through various sources, Dietrich recommends. Even if you get your prescriptions at a specific pharmacy, individuals should look for appointments at other providers.
That includes looking outside your city. Dietrich found that appointments in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City went much more quickly than appointments in other parts of the state. Dietrich got her vaccine at a Hy-Vee in Oelwein.
'If you can drive someplace, you might have a little bit more luck out of the metro area,” she said.
The biggest piece of advice Dietrich has is to be persistent in looking for vaccines and be consistent. She said you won't have much luck finding an appointment time checking once every four hours for new slots.
Persistence is especially helpful when at first glance there doesn't appear to be any available shots.
'You have to be is tenacious and not willing to take ‘we don't have an appointment' at face value,” Dietrich said. 'Just keep refreshing that web page.”
When scheduling appointments for others, Dietrich said she often would wake up early and hit the refresh button on her web browser every minute for 30 to 45 minutes.
'If you sit there, hit refresh from 6-630 a.m., you're going to find them,” she said. 'That's how I found them.”
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