Looking For A Vaccine?


If you would have told me thirty years ago that I would actively be seeking out a place to give me a shot—a shot with no guarantee of a lollipop or sheet of stickers as a reward, no less!—I would have called you crazy. And yet, here we are in the midst of a pandemic, and I’m looking to get one if not two shots.

Crazy.

There was an article in the Inquirer this week about folks losing their minds trying to find and get their vaccine. Confusion about who falls into what categories, which categories are eligible, where to go, what to bring… all of it is causing plenty of folks headaches. So if you’re having trouble finding out what group you’re in or where you can go, hopefully we can help.

What Group Are You In?

If you’re over the age of 65, you are in group 1A for Pennsylvania. That’s the first group. That’s the group being vaccinated now. You’re in luck!

Under 65, and you’re dealing with loopholes. Are you medically compromised in some way? Do you live with someone who is older? Blah blah blah… You can find out which group you’re in through the state’s YourTurn tool. Enter in some demographic info (county, birthdate, etc.), the industry you work in, and any compromising medical facts that may bump you up, and you’ll find out your group number. If you’re eligible for a vaccine now, you’ll move on to step 2. If you’re ineligible, you’ll be placed on the health department’s waiting list.

Interesting note. One of our associates, who is in his early 40s, managed to go from group 1C (essential workers in the finance field, to be vaccinated later) to 1A (the group being vaccinated now) just by claiming to be a smoker. Claiming obesity also changed his grouping to 1A. Who knew extra cheese on a pizza and a pack of smokes in your pocket would prove beneficial one of these days? *cough*

Where To Find The Vaccine, Officially?

Qualifying steps made, now… where to get your shot(s)?

If you’re in Philly, you can register on the city’s portal and they’ll contact you when you’ve been slotted in. But the big caveats here are that it’s a passive method—you’re waiting on them to contact you—and you’re trusting the Philadelphia government to manage your health effectively.

The state’s official channel for finding a vaccine is technically Step 2 of the YourTurn tool. It’s map-based, and you can scroll around the map or enter your address to find places nearby. It’s technically functional, but if you live in a populated area, it can prove frustrating as all the appointments are typically gobbled up by the time you find your house.

And you can try your hand at a walk-in clinic, provided you can find one. Hospitals and pharmacies are all running mass vaccination clinics at this stage, but most are relying on waiting lists and appointments. So your luck for a walk-in vaccination may depend on which church you are affiliated with and which clinic your church is affiliated with. It’s a crapshoot.

Where To Find The Vaccine, Unofficially?

The most effective unofficial channel seems to be FindAShot.org. It’s an independent site combing all the grocery store & drug store pharmacy clinics, where possible. In PA, Acme, Safeway, and Sav-On are blocking the site. And some independent pharmacies immediately funnel you off the site. But the big ones—Rite-Aid, CVS, etc.—are on there. You can quickly find out who has appointments near you (or not near you, as the case may be), and speed through the pharmacy’s qualifier application to schedule an appointment.

You can also sign your mobile number up with a website called Dr. B, which is tapped in with a number of vaccination centers. In the case of the “use in six hours or throw away” Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, there are often extra doses at the end of a shift. If there are extras near you, you’ll get a text letting you know.

It’s going to be tough in these still-early days, but with more and more vaccine orders, there’s a chance the Philadelphia area may achieve herd immunity by June. Until then, let’s keep playing it safe and good luck to you all!

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