While a state or city’s website for government facilities might only drop new appointment openings on certain days or at certain times, private companies operating in those states aren’t held to the same schedule. Each company seems to have a different time at which they drop new appointments, so openings are scattered across the day.
Most of the following information is anecdotal, although this anecdotal evidence has been getting stronger over the past week as people across the country, and even some trade groups, post their experiences of having luck at particular times.
- CVS, for example, seems to prefer adding more appointments between 1 am to 5 am local time after many people have gone to bed and site traffic lessens.
- Walgreens seems to drop openings around 5 am local time.
- For most states that Safeway and Albertsons operate in, their appointment scheduling website is updated in 30-minute intervals throughout the day, although new openings aren’t necessarily released at each update. For Pacific Northwestern states, they drop appointments every Thursday at 5 pm local time.
For private company websites, keep searching throughout the day for the occasional openings that may become available, but make an effort very late or very early, as companies seem to be favoring times between midnight and sunrise.
Showing up without a preregistered appointment is increasingly (but slowly) being allowed. It’s still rare. Certain sites in Louisiana, Florida, and Maryland have been broadly allowing walk-ins. New York City has begun allowing walk-ins at certain government-run sites for those 75 and older, plus one person who accompanies them, regardless of other eligibility requirements. With every state having its own rapidly changing rules, and each private company running its own scheduling, double-check everything before you show up to attempt a walk-in.
Step 4: What to Bring to Get Vaccinated
Vaccines are typically covered by your health insurance, but it pays to check with your insurance provider and the office before you commit to an appointment. Surprise bills are a problem in this country. If your profession is what grants you eligibility, bring proof of employment, such as a work ID, letter of employment, or pay stub. If you’re eligible because of underlying health conditions, you may need proof of your medical condition, such as a letter from your doctor.
Private practices and retail locations, such as pharmacies, usually require you to bring an ID and health insurance card and may ask for the name of your primary care physician. Vaccination sites run by government services, such as at community health centers and public health departments, don’t typically ask for health insurance info, but you’ll likely need proof of state residency. Depending on your state, it may be possible to use school records, samples of mail addressed to you, or a statement from another person as a substitute for a government-issued ID. But be sure to check with the specific vaccination site you’ve decided upon.
Step 5: Getting Your Vaccine
In the United States, the three vaccines available to the public right now via emergency authorization by the FDA are from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen. The mechanisms by which they work differ, and two require second doses at different times.