First off, let me say that I am NOT a medical professional. I do not work in the healthcare system in any way and am by no means an expert on this topic. I’m just an educator who spent roughly 15 hours trying to get a shot and tried about every website and phone number out there in the process. I would love for others NOT to have to spend 15 hours frantically refreshing the Walgreens’ website.
I became eligible for my shot on March 1st as a public school employee. I run an after-school program and am inside with kids four days a week, so I have been looking forward to scheduling my shot for a very long time. I wasn’t able to score an appointment to the March 1st clinic for my district, and the waiting list was about as long as an unabridged copy of “War and Peace,” so that left me on my own to schedule my appointment.
They hadn’t updated their graphic to include educators or people over 55, and those categories of people were not available on the dropdown menu when determining your eligibility. I checked multiple other sites and encountered the same issue. I kept refreshing for about an hour and then figured that this wasn’t getting updated until the morning, so I went to sleep (deciding to unwind by scrolling through vaccination sites on my phone in bed).
I finally ended up scoring an appointment for the following week after trying many different tactics, so here is a rundown of some shortcuts that I found and were suggested by other people going through the same thing.
I talked to some people who bypassed my midnight problem by simply clicking the age group above theirs. For example, those who just qualified at midnight to sign up as 55 or older clicked 65 or older, figuring that no one would bat an eye while checking their ID at the appointment because they were indeed eligible for the vaccine at the time of sign-up. This is definitely something not everyone will be comfortable with, so take this entire blog with a grain of salt! These are just tips from myself and those I know who could get their “golden ticket!”
So, this is an option at 12:01 a.m. on the day your age group becomes eligible. Simply visit https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal and select the age group that most closely matches yours on the dropdown menu while determining eligibility. They didn’t update the site until well into the morning, so everyone I know who used this tactic got the primo appointments for the very near future. Also, don’t call the number on the website on your day. They will have a pre-recorded message saying, “Call back tomorrow.” Don’t waste your time!
I had NO luck with VAMS. I know many people who scheduled their appointment on VAMS, but it just never seemed to work for me. My husband got an appointment for early April, but I know other teachers who weren’t seeing any appointments until May. Absolutely try it when you are searching for your appointment and know that there may be other faster ways.
Walgreens and CVS both schedule appointments directly on their site, and, especially if you’re willing to drive a few towns over, you should be able to score an appointment within the next week. They also didn’t update their dropdown menu until late morning, so you may need to check the age group above yours (again, only AFTER you become eligible! Please don’t lie about your age to get a shot if it’s not your turn!).
Walgreens makes you schedule both your first and second doses simultaneously, so you may need to keep refreshing that page to get two appointments that work for you. They update their site every hour!
You can schedule directly through Yale, and if you have MyChart, it’s super easy! If you are an educator, they have a separate portal for you with appointments even earlier. This is how I ultimately scored my appointment!
You can also call Stamford Hospital directly. This was a trick sent to me from a friend who scheduled his vaccine this way when he was having no luck with VAMS. I was on hold for about 30 minutes in the afternoon and scored an appointment…for May. Had I called earlier, of course, I would have secured a better appointment, but I was grateful to know I had a backup plan if I couldn’t find something sooner!
If it’s not your turn and you are hoping to score a vaccine early, I have several friends who have been vaccinated by volunteering at COVID vaccination sites. They often offer any leftover shots to their volunteers so that they don’t go to waste!