After a long wait to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, I finally got the first Pfizer shot early in May and will get the second one by the end of the month. My experience of receiving the shot was quite convenient, and a relief. So, I thought I’d share it with you in detail.
Timeline and steps of searching for a vaccine site
- Around March, I saw the Washington Dept of Health’s (WA DOH) post on Facebook about the vaccine availability for elderly and vulnerable people. I was able to subscribe to the website to receive an email notification whenever I was eligible.
- On April 16, I got an email from WA DOH stating that I was eligible and was referred to this link (https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/) to register for the vaccine.
- I had to answer many questions on the registration form. Most questions were about whether I have had any severe reactions to any vaccines or medicines.
- Then I was able to choose a vaccination site searching by my zip code. I chose the one located in Redmond; seven miles away from Sammamish where I live. It’s the closest location based on the website that still had available slots. Types of vaccines varied for each site. However, there was no option to choose a date and time. The only information I was provided was to wait for the next notification of when exactly it would be available to me. So, this whole process here seemed to only let me select my desired place and not actually make an appointment.
- After that, I never heard from WA DOH or the Redmond site again. I didn’t follow up with it and it slipped my mind due to the amount of online work and study that shifted away my focus.
- By the end of April, information was coming from everywhere, like friends and the school Slack channel, that people could access the vaccine at places like Safeway or Walgreens, though many sites ran out of vaccine slots quickly. It was overwhelming. Many are open for scheduling by phone. I don’t like phone scheduling because it makes me anxious, so I searched for online scheduling websites.
- Letting a search engine filter options saved me a lot of time. I used this search term: “Covid vaccine near me” and chose the very first link on the search results page, https://www.vaccines.gov/search. It’s a vaccine finder website supported by United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How did I book an appointment?
- By using the link mentioned above, I selected the type of vaccine I wanted, entered my zip code, and distance range from the zip code.
- I picked the desired location: The QFC pharmacy in my neighborhood. Then, I clicked the “check appointment availability” button. It took me to a page on Kroger’s website (who QFC is a subsidiary of), where I needed to specify the state I live in again.
- After that, I arrived at https://www.kroger.com/rx/covid-eligibility, where I had to answer questions about my eligibility, insurance (this is optional since by federal mandate vaccines are free of cost), and a brief background of my reactions to other vaccines. I liked that it’s a chat-like interaction form which felt like less work than a normal boring static form.
- I picked the date and time for the first shot. The system would then automatically generate the date and time for the second shot, which is three weeks ahead. I believe this is a way to prevent people from forgetting to schedule their second shot or having to go through the whole scheduling process again if they have to do it manually. This article helps explain why you shouldn’t skip your second Covid shot. However, changing the appointment is possible via phone.
- A confirmation email about the vaccine appointments for both shots was sent to my inbox immediately after booking, including a contact number for rescheduling or cancelling. I was glad that I finally could arrange this.
- I urged my boyfriend to go through the same steps. Fortunately, the QFC pharmacy is just across the street from our home. It wouldn’t take more than an hour to get it done, so he was able to make an appointment for the same date easily.
- One day before the appointment date, I received a reminder email and a brief guide on how to prepare for the vaccination (wear short sleeve, wear mask, bring proof of ID, etc.)
How was the check-in procedure?
Everything was fast and smooth. The pharmacy is a five-minute walk from home. My appointment was at 3:15 p.m., while my boyfriend’s was at 3 p.m. I expected to see a line of people waiting to get their shot, but there was none. Here are the steps in details:
- The staff asked me for my name, my insurance (which was optional), and which arm I wanted to receive the shot in. To which, I chose my non-dominant arm so that my dominant arm would still work fine in case the other one had soreness in the next few days. I prepared my ID but wasn’t asked for it.
- The waiting time for my boyfriend to get his shot was about ten minutes, then it was my turn.
- The pharmacist who would vaccinate me confirmed a couple questions again on whether I ever had a severe reaction with a vaccine before. My answer was no. Then she gave me the shot, which didn’t hurt more or less than a regular shot.
- I was handed a vaccine record card and an information document about potential side effects that can occur.
- She advised us to sit down for at least 15 minutes in case we experienced any immediate side effects. We set a timer and sat down on the chairs arranged in front of the pharmacy.
- Nothing strange happened after the 15-minute time. We took off, bought a large watermelon from QFC and headed back home.
What were my post-vaccinated symptoms?
- Day 1 (vaccination date): My arm was a bit sore.
- Day 2: My arm was so sore that I could hardly lift it up fully, but I wasn’t concerned because it’s an expected side effect.
- Day 3: The soreness almost disappeared entirely.
- Day 4 and onward: No more soreness or any other symptoms. All is well.
There’s so much information online telling you where to go to get the shot. Since vaccine locations and availability vary depending on where you live, be sure to check out local online sources. You can also try visiting the vaccine finder to go through the registration process and make an appointment at the place and time you desire. Now, I’m excited and nervous to get the second shot. I will report back on how it goes.