How to Get In Line for the Covid-19 Vaccine

January 26, 2021

How to Get In Line for the Covid-19 Vaccine

Let’s start with the good news about the horrific and history-making Covid-19 pandemic: Vaccine rollouts are happening for frontline health care workers and those living in long-term care facilities. The next big wave of vaccinations will be on the older adults who are living independently or with family caregivers. Here’s even better news: Late-stage clinical trials look promising for additional COVID-19 vaccines to become available soon.

But here’s the tough news: Getting shots in arms is proving to be really, really hard. Vaccine distribution plans vary from state to state, and even from county to county. Scheduling and logistics issues abound. And pockets of reluctance, a “wait and see” attitude toward vaccination, threatens to delay the long-awaited end to the pandemic.

The fact is, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is an important step to prevent getting sick with COVID-19 disease. Here’s how to help the older adult in your life forge a path to getting vaccinated.

Reassure with Facts

The first step to getting in line is deciding it’s okay to do it.

For older adults who are apprehensive about vaccine safety, build confidence by talking to them about how the drug approval process followed the same high standards, with independent panels of experts, as any other drug they have taken. As of mid-January, nearly two million doses have been administered in long-term care facilities—each one being tracked, adding to the growing body of data about safety and efficacy.

Are side effects the sticking point? One expert epidemiologist pointed out that side effects were actually less frequent and severe in adults older than 55 years in the vaccine trials. Soreness at the site of injection is the most common; other side effects might include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, joint pain, and possibly some fever.

Finally, it may seem like a no-brainer but it doesn’t hurt to mention that the decision to get vaccinated protects more than just their own health. It can also help protect loved ones in their family and community.

Get Connected to Local Health Departments

Be proactive, don’t wait for a phone call to find out details about when and where to get vaccinated. Local health authority websites at the city, county or state levels are the best source for the most up-to-date information. Check to see if there is a toll-free vaccine information number. For the tech savvy, there might be email or mobile phone alerts available.

Log in at Non-Peak Hours

For municipalities requiring online pre-registration, try logging on early in the morning or late at night, when fewer people are accessing the site. This goes for phone calls to informational hotlines or vaccination sites, as well. Depending on the resources in your area, backlogs are common at peak hours.

Widen the Net

Many pharmacies, health centers, doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, and mass vaccination clinics will be vaccine providers. Just last week, new recommendations were issued for states to work with pharmacies and community health centers to distribute the vaccine, but many states are still building out distribution plans.

For those with private insurance, double check plans with your primary care provider or pharmacy. They may have another fast-track path as public health authorities may be more focused on serving those without insurance.

Be patient, Stay vigilant

With a new administration came an ambitious target of 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine administered within President Biden’s first 100 days of office. That’s 50 million Americans protected by the end of April. What’s most important now is to be patient and stay vigilant. As distribution ramps up and plans stabilize, an individual’s pathway to vaccination may take twists and turns.

We are in for a long journey. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says social distancing and facial coverings are still recommended even after an individual is vaccinated. It’s also uncertain whether the Covid-19 vaccine will be an annual ritual like the flu vaccine. In a few months, experts will be able to analyze one-year data on participants in early-phase clinical trials, to see how long their antibodies have lasted.

If you’re curious how vaccinations are progressing in your state, check out this interactive dosage tracker from the Centers for Disease Control.


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