A Guide to Getting COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments in Connecticut

To skip my rambling, jump below the fold.

And an obligatory disclaimer: every state’s scheduling process is different, so the following tips ONLY apply if you are trying to make an appointment in Connecticut.

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My parents finally became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine with the latest round of eligibilities. I had started to call my mom “Teen Mom” for being slightly younger than the parents of my cohort.

For once my superpowers–having the patience to refresh pages endlessly, knowing how to scour airline award charts, and leveraging browser extensions–paid off in a productive way. I managed to secure appointments for my parents on the first day that they became eligible.

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Before we get any further: The best way to get an appointment is to call the CT Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224 BEFORE 8:15AM ET, or as close to 8AM ET as possible, and leave a callback number if you are not immediately connected to an agent. While this line is open between 8:00AM and 8:00PM ET, 7 days a week, by 8:30ish AM all callback slots are usually already filled (at least at the start of a new round of eligible groups).

Note: If you are able to leave a callback number, you will get a return call by end of day (8PM ET) from the scheduling team.

And it is very important that you leave a callback number at which you can be reached throughout the day. The agents will likely call from 877-918-2224, but it’s probably prudent to pick up any local calls you receive for the day.

In short: call the vaccine appointment line as close to 8AM ET as possible, leave a callback number, and, most importantly, be available to answer the return call.

The agent will ask for your name, your date of birth, your town, your full address, and your insurance information (but the vaccine is free so you do not need to provide your insurance information to the agent). The agent will also ask if you have any coronavirus symptoms, and if you have any medical conditions that you want noted on your chart.

Unlike with VAMS, you can make appointments for both doses using the CT Vaccine Appointment Assist Line.

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If you don’t like the phone option, you should register for an account on VAMS (Vaccine Administration Management System). Registration is only available to those in eligible groups. Once you register, you can easily access, schedule, and manage appointments in the portal.

There are two major drawbacks to using VAMS: it is the most advertised method for making an appointment, so competition is fiercest here. If you like the thrill of beating out someone for an appointment, you might try your luck here. The other drawback is that you can’t make an appointment for the second dose online before getting your first.

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If, for some reason, the phone scheduling service doesn’t work out for you, or you hate VAMS, or maybe you just want greater control over the location/vaccine-maker/time/provider, you can also try the following ways to make an appointment:

• Register for a Walgreens account. If you are eligible, the site will allow you to search for availability using your location. For research I called a few pharmacists who told me that they’ve heard checking the site at 1ish might occasionally yield an appointment. I’ve also seen an odd appointment or two at mid-afternoon. Because Walgreens doesn’t schedule appointments for doses that they have not confirmed, they are currently only offering appointments three days out.

CVS and Walmart both offer vaccine sign-up on their websites, but I’ve personally not seen any open appointments here. You might have better luck.

• Make an appointment through healthcare systems, which will require a MyChart account: Yale New Haven Health, Middlesex Health, Hartford Healthcare (833-943-5721), UCONN Health, and Stamford Health.

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Lastly, if you have made an appointment but you are not satisfied with the date, you might try the following:

• Some providers keep an “On-Call List” (like the one that RVNAhealth maintains) that is updated daily. You can try to add yourself to some of these lists (as early in the day as possible, repeat daily). Note that only those currently eligible can be added to these lists.

Join a local “vaccine hunters” group; these groups are most active on Facebook. YMMV.

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Connecticut has received (or will receive) some 156,000 doses of vaccine this week alone. If you are currently eligible, you should be able to get an appointment this month without trying too hard.

If you are in an eligible group, cannot get an appointment on your own, and have exhausted your options, email me and I will try to help!

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