We continue to hear stories about how confusing and inaccessible the process is just to get to a website that actually works and lets one schedule an appointment. As of yet, there seems to be very little coordination between all of the different systems and organizations, governments, and hospitals.
There are many people who are eligible now, and if you are one of them, take a moment to realize the next step is going to take some patience and deep-breathing. Getting an appointment may require extreme persistence whether one is trying by phone, online, or through an app. There are many different websites, phone numbers, and apps, and those of us who are not tech-savvy nor have hours of time to waste navigating our way through the process need as much help as possible.
With some help from the NY Post, below is a comprehensive list of vaccine resources, including some homegrown services devoted to helping New Yorkers get booked, any one of which may resonate with your circumstance.
Are You Eligible? Find Out.
As of Tuesday, March 2nd, a select group of essential workers, New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions and those over the age of 65 are eligible for the vaccine.
To find out if you are eligible for the jab, head to the state’s “Am I Eligible” website and input the required information. The portal will ask about age, essential worker status and any conditions that can lead to a compromised immune system. Residents can also call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX to find out if they are eligible, check the city’s website, or refer to the below list:
Education workers, including childcare staff and college professors providing in-person instruction
Public transit employees, including airline workers, subway and mass transit employees and TLC drivers.
Hotel workers who have direct contact with staff
Workers at grocery stores, including bodegas and convenience stores, and restaurant employees
First responders, including firefighters, police officers and support staff
Workers for congregate care settings, including nursing homes and homeless shelters
People with underlying health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and other illnesses.
New Yorkers over the age of 65
Resources to help you book your COVID vaccine appointment in NYC
Because the city and state systems (listed below) can be so confusing, random networks of good Samaritans have created their own websites and programs to connect New Yorkers with appointments. Here are some of the places to start before you even trying to navigate the booking sites directly:
Epicenter-NYC started as a newsletter for Jackson Heights, Queens during the height of the pandemic, and now is a hub for a team of volunteers who find appointments for people and then sign them up. People can sign up to get an appointment scheduled for them by filling out Epicenter-NYC’s form.
NYC Vaccine List
NYC Vaccine List searches over 200 vaccine sites across the city and lists appointments as they become available in real-time, in one place. Although users ultimately still have to grapple with the various inoculation locations’ sign-up systems, it cuts out the hard part of finding which have open slots at the right time. Dan Benamy, a Brooklyn software developer, created the website with a team of volunteers after signing up his grandparents for vaccines and realizing how difficult it was.
TurboVax uses a similar process to scour for appointments at 53 city and state sites in the Big Apple. It also announces appointments as they become available on its Twitter feed. Software engineer Huge Ma created the service in two weekends for $50 after trying to sign his mom up for a shot — and says he has helped tens of thousands of people score slots since, according to The Guardian.
The federal government recently rolled out its own map-based tool for finding shots across the country called VaccineFinder.
Big Pharmacies Are Limited
Several pharmacy chains are currently offering the vaccine — though so far only to residents age 65 and older. President Biden announced Tuesday that teachers and child care workers would also be eligible starting this month.
How to book an appointment by phone
For those who’d rather not sit in front of a computer refreshing a screen all day, the city and state each have COVID-19 vaccine hotlines where you can set up appointments at sites they control. New York State operates 19 facilities from the Big Apple to North Country, including the Javits Center in Manhattan, Jones Beach, SUNY Albany and the state fairgrounds in Syracuse. Residents need to call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX to set up an appointment.
Official New York State & New York City Sources:
New York City Vaccine Finder https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/
New York City COVID Vaccine HUB https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-vaccines.page
New York State Vaccine Eligibility Tool (Then Appt Finder) https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/
New York State COVID Vaccine HUB https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/