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The Hunt

My cousin and her family in New Jersey have had terrible trouble getting vaccine appointments. Weeks ago when they qualified for age and underlying conditions, they registered on dozens of county and private vaccine sites. But they have not heard back. With each passing week, I was feeling increasingly anxious for them.

Nearing midnight on Saturday, I prepared to do battle on their behalf. Laptop was plugged in, websites were bookmarked, and their personal info was on-hand. To my dismay, one hour of furious clicking on multiple sites led me to vaccine-hunting wilderness.

“Fully booked” and “There are no appointments at this time“ flashed in an infinite loop. In the rare instance when I got a spot, I promptly lost it to faster fingers.

New Jersey publishes a spreadsheet of the bazillion locations in the state that are doing vaccinations but the links are dubious. Chances are they will take you to the parent organization's website where you will promptly get lost in the haphazardly organized content.

As if vaccine hunting isn't a sport worthy enough that it needs a spreadsheet to boot!

At 4:45am, I reached for the laptop again with bleary eyes. Now CVS had activated their “Schedule appointment” link for NJ and the site showed half a dozen towns in the state with availability. Hallelujah, I said and sprang upright. This time I got "Appointments are loading. Please check back later."

15, 30, 60 minutes went by while I refreshed and continued staring at the appointments loading message. By now, I was intermittently dozing off and then slapping myself to attention.

And then...lightning struck!

I realized that the appointment loading tab was called "Waiting Room" and by closing the tab while refreshing, I was likely exiting the queue in the waiting room!! After this epiphany, I juggled in different browsers to cover my bases.

I was all in and I was determined to slay this beast!

90 minutes into the ordeal, the appointments finally finished loading and the intake form popped up. And then, I became the Tasmanian Devil. I worked at a furious pace and secured three precious appointments for my cousin and her family. I am incredibly relieved they will be vaccinated soon, but I am mortified at the process. HOW are elders, like my cousin, supposed to get through this?!

The good news is that the CVS site is working. The bad news is that you may need the patience of Job to get an appointment.

Based on my experience - sample size of three in the State of NJ - try CVS in the wee hours of the morning. And be prepared to work your fingers to the nubs. I trust that this will get easier as more doses are available. In the meantime, all the best on your hunt.

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