How Do I Get A COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment? : Shots - Health News Use NPR's tool to find out where to start when it's your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Plus, helpful advice about how to navigate the system.
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How To Sign Up For A COVID-19 Vaccine In Your State

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How To Sign Up For A COVID-19 Vaccine In Your State

How To Sign Up For A COVID-19 Vaccine In Your State

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have help this morning for people who have trouble finding doses of vaccine. If you are in one of the priority groups who should be getting the COVID vaccine now and you've struggled to find out where and how, this is for you. It's a webpage at npr.org with directions for people in all 50 states. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin was part of the team that developed it and is on the line. Selena, good morning.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Obviously, some people are really struggling with this. Once they reach out to a place, they're out of vaccine. They don't even know where to call at the beginning. So what is this webpage?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: So this is a tool where you can look up your state and understand a bit more about how the vaccine distribution is set up and where you need to go to figure out where to get a shot. So the first step that it walks you through is to make sure you're eligible. The second is to check to see if there's a state or local public health registry, because those can sometimes get you an appointment or put you on a waitlist. And then third, you've got to check to see if there are private providers in your area that may be giving out vaccines, like health systems or clinics. Those often have their own sign-up systems. And for this, we included provider maps and lists and linked to those. So after all of that, we included a hotline number to call if you need help and links to FAQ and local news coverage that may be helpful, too.

INSKEEP: I imagine a lot of people would wish there was just one phone number or one webpage they could go to in their given state. It's not that simple. But at least, I suppose, they can go to NPR's one page and find information.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Yeah, exactly. Public health departments, hospitals and pharmacies just don't talk to each other. That's basically the issue. So this is a way to kind of break those things down. So if you want to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, you understand how these things are separate. And you know where to look. So do you want to try? Do you want to look a state up?

INSKEEP: Yes, I would love to. And let's try my home state of Indiana. I don't live there. But I have lots of relations, seniors who are there now. My mom's already been vaccinated, maybe some others haven't. So we go to the state, Indiana.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Yes, Indiana.

INSKEEP: How to get the vaccine in Indiana?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Right.

INSKEEP: And it goes through the steps that you mentioned, checked whether it's your turn. And apparently, there's a number in Indiana, a special number, 211.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: That you can call if you need help. Yeah, that's right. The other thing about Indiana is it does have kind of a central registration tool that you will find a link to. And it has a map of vaccine sites by county. So that's handy because there are sites that you can see on the map that don't use the central registration system. They have their own numbers and their own webpages. So you can spend some time clicking around on the map and see if there are providers near you that you might be able to reach out to directly.

INSKEEP: OK. This is really great. It helps people cut through some of the chaos or what must feel like chaos to people looking for shots. Although, we have to be clear, just because you find where to get the shot doesn't mean that they will have a shot.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Absolutely true. There is way more demand than there are doses to go around right now. And we should be clear that we're not making any claim that we're going to suddenly help you succeed in finding the shot. The goal is really just to help you understand the vaccine flowchart. And we have heard from the Biden administration that officials are looking at options for something more centralized and clear. But many sources that I've talked to think it's probably too late for a system that marries all of these different things. And so in the absence of a solution like that, communication can help with the anxiety. So we're trying to lay out for people, here's where that vaccine is going. Here's what you need to try. And probably, just keep trying until you get your appointment.

INSKEEP: Selena, thanks for the work.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin. And you can find this tool by going to the Shots page at npr.org. That's npr.org/shots.

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