You May Already Be Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine But Getting It Could Be Tricky

The government keeps changing the COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, and it can drive you crazy. The good news is that some people eager for the vaccine are now eligible to receive it much sooner than they thought they would be. The bad news is that the distribution has been haphazard, and finding the vaccine can be difficult.

States are making the decision as to who is eligible for vaccines. They’re making those plans off of their own risk situations, the number of vaccine doses they have and their ability to distribute the vaccine. Some states are still only vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and people living in long-term care homes. Others are vaccinating people over the age of 65 and people over the age of 18 with underlying medical concerns that make them susceptible to COVID-19.

Because states are changing their guidelines daily, we aren’t going to add a link to this blog--it might be outdated by the time you read this. Instead, Google your state and “COVID-19 vaccine guidelines.” You’ll find out if you are eligible. You can also call your local health department to find out if you qualify, if the vaccine is available and where you can get it. You might need an appointment and proof of eligibility. Be highly suspicious of anyone telling you that you can pay to cut the line, that they will deliver it to you or that you should get other procedures done at the same time. You can check out a list of vaccine scams here.

Many doctors have been disappointed that their practices haven’t been able to get vaccines to administer. But pop-up clinics have been set up. Even when it’s a familiar place, it might be somewhere new. For instance, our team knows a 65-year-old nurse who got the vaccine at a different branch of her normal supermarket pharmacy. In her case, she had to make an appointment two weeks in advance, bring proof of her nursing license and employment and drive out of her way, but she was thrilled to receive her first dose!

Areas are doing their best to get the vaccines out quickly. Outdoor stadiums for the NFL and MLB are being used as vaccine sites. Being outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the virus, especially when people wear masks and maintain social distance. They can vaccinate vast numbers of people quickly in an outdoor space like that. While they might not currently have enough of the vaccine to have people file through, they will be set up and ready. Disneyland is also becoming a super vaccination site, and Supervisor Doug Chaffee said it is, “absolutely critical in stopping this deadly virus.”

While much of the distribution has been politicized, it’s essential to focus on what really matters: your health. The U.S. is seeing record deaths every day. It was almost inevitable that the distribution would get off to a bumpy start: this is a vaccine that everyone needs; it doesn’t target a specific group; no one had it to begin with. With the demand so high and the need so immediate, there were always going to be problems. Instead of dwelling on the setbacks, focus on what you can control. For right now, do what you have been doing. You can continue to protect yourself through the safety measures we have been following for months: handwashing, masks and social distance. Reach out to your local health department to learn your current eligibility status and if you will be contacted when it’s your turn to get the vaccine. You may be eligible, but there might be a couple more steps you have to take. Until then, take care of yourself!

Image: John Cameron via Unsplash

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