Where to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 vaccinations are underway. Widespread vaccination will likely be key to ending the pandemic that has disrupted our lives. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has said that approximately 75 to 80% of Americans will need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity in the United States—a milestone that could be reached by the end of 2021, depending on vaccine distribution and public uptake.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including COVID vaccine availability and immunization sites.
Phased Approach to COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is huge. It will take vaccine manufacturers time to ramp up production to meet demand, so public health experts have recommended a staged approach to vaccination:
- Phase 1a includes healthcare personnel and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Phase 1a vaccinations began in December 2020.
- Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers: police officers; food and agricultural, postal, daycare, public transit, grocery store, public transit, and manufacturing workers; teachers; and people aged 75 and older. (Some states are allowing people 65 and older to register for the vaccine.) Some states began Phase 1b vaccinations during the second full week of January 2020; however, demand currently exceeds vaccine supply in many places.
- Phase 1c includes people aged 65 to 74 and people ages 16 to 64 who have underlying health conditions that increase the risk of COVID complications. Essential workers of any age in the transportation, logistics, food service, construction, communications, information technology, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health sectors will also be eligible for vaccination during Phase 1c.
- Phase 2 will include all other people ages 16 and older. (As of January 2021, no COVID-19 vaccines are approved or authorized for use in children younger than age 16.)
Where to Get the Vaccine: COVID-19 Vaccination Locations
Each state is establishing (and refining) plans for vaccination administration. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente), “each state will rely on a network of providers to administer the vaccine to individuals. These providers will likely include hospitals and doctors’ offices, pharmacies, health departments, federally qualified health centers and other clinics.” Some states may also choose to establish mass vaccinations sites at schools or community centers. Yankee Stadium, the Met’s Citi Field, and Disneyland are all expected to serve as mass vaccination sites.
Select your state at the CDC’s vaccine center to see how and when you may be vaccinated and where, including many pharmacies and supermarkets. You can visit their websites for more information and to register or receive notification when you are eligible to schedule a vaccination appointment. Just some of the many companies that will administer COVID-19 vaccine shots include these pharmacies and supermarkets:
- CVS, including CVS in Target (90% of Target stores have a CVS)
- Pharmacies in individual states
- Walmart, including Sam’s Club pharmacies
Watch local news for information regarding vaccination sites. You can also contact your county or state health department to learn more about COVID-19 vaccination in your area.
Do not simply show up at a vaccination site and expect to receive a COVID-19 shot. Because supplies are limited, many sites require pre-registration and an appointment. Your local health department or doctor’s office can tell you about local registration and sign-up procedures. The COVID-19 vaccines are a two-shot regimen. When you are vaccinated, you’ll receive a COVID-19 vaccination record card to help you keep track of when you are due for your second injection and which vaccine you received. (Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine is still in clinical trials.)
What We Don’t Know About COVID Vaccine Distribution
No one knows exactly when the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the general public. Some experts expect the vaccine may be widely available in spring or summer 2021. The federal government recently announced they are releasing vaccine doses originally held for second doses. This will make vaccines available for more Americans to receive their first dose. Vaccine manufacturers anticipate being able to replenish stocks quickly in time for everyone to get an effective second dose.
Because a smooth vaccine rollout depends on supply, distribution, and qualified healthcare workers to administer vaccines, there may be wide variation in vaccine availability. It’s possible that some places will still be vaccinating Phase 1b while others have moved on to Phase 1c or even Phase 2. There may be overlap between the phases.
The approval of additional COVID-19 vaccines could alter vaccine distribution plans. Your local health department is your best source of information regarding COVID-19 vaccination.