The One Way You Didn't Know You Can Get the Vaccine Sooner
Doing this simple thing a few times can get you a shot in the arm.
This weekend gave us something to be excited about when news broke that a third COVID vaccine had been approved for emergency use and will soon be available to those who are eligible. However, that excitement may have quickly faded to frustration when you realized how difficult it still is to land a vaccine appointment in many parts of the U.S. Although only select groups of people are eligible, many are still unable to get vaccinated due to various hurdles, including supply shortages and scheduling challenges.
If you're trying to get an appointment, there's one trick that could get you a jab, even if you're not yet in the eligible groups—and it's completely above board. To see what you can do to get your shot sooner, read on, and for another way to get the vaccine ASAP, check out This Is Who Can Get the Leftover Vaccine at Walgreens, CVS, & Walmart.
You can often get vaccinated if you're a volunteer at a vaccination site.
If you're looking to get vaccinated and do a good deed at the same time, you should look into becoming a volunteer at a local vaccination site. As vaccination efforts continue to expand, the need for volunteers is also growing. Even Anthony Fauci, MD, pointed this out during a Feb. 28 interview with Face the Nation on CBS. "That's the thing I think people are not fully appreciative of. You got to have people to get those vaccines into the arms of individuals," he said. "And we're employing National Guards and others, retired physicians and nurses, et cetera."
But some cities have thousands of positions open, such as Dallas where there are 40,000 volunteer positions to be filled as of Feb. 24. And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
In some cases, vaccination site volunteers are considered frontline workers.
As is the case with many aspects of COVID response in the U.S., the details of volunteering at a vaccination site vary greatly from state to state. In some states, volunteering at a vaccine site classifies you as a frontline worker, which shoots you to the front of the line, as Fast Company pointed out.
While many sites may vaccinate you during your first shift, that's not a guarantee. "I know of people who helped who didn't get vaccinated during their first shifts, but eventually did when they volunteered for other shifts. I knew going in that it wasn't guaranteed to happen," volunteer Jacqueline Fox, JD, professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, told Verywell Health.
The vaccination sites tend to ask that volunteers commit to a specific number of shifts, which can be anywhere between three to ten hours long. Whether or not you get vaccinated as a volunteer may depend on how many shifts you take on. And for some behavior to avoid both pre- and post-shot, check out The CDC Says Don't Do This Within 2 Weeks of Your COVID Vaccine.
In others, it doesn't even matter if you're eligible to be vaccinated in your state or not.
The Georgia Department of Health doesn't guarantee volunteers priority access to the vaccine. "Ideally, you want all of your volunteers to be vaccinated," LaKieva Williams of Georgia Responds, the state's COVID-19 volunteer response effort, told CNN. "The intent is there, but it's a matter of supply." But if there is extra vaccine available at the end of the day, volunteers are usually ready to get their jab.
"You can't save those extra doses until tomorrow, you've got to try and get them into people, and they're trying to use that as the funnel for getting the volunteers caught up," Robert Riley, MD, a retired family physician, told CNN.
"No vaccine doses should be wasted," Fox explained to Verywell Health. "Having people right there to be vaccinated if there are extras seems really efficient and sensible." To see how frequently you'll have to head back for another dose, check out The Pfizer CEO Says This Is How Often You'll Need a COVID Vaccine.
You don't have to have medical experience to volunteer.
"Volunteers are often categorized as medical or non-medical, depending on their qualifications," Morgan Philbin, PhD, assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Public Health in New York, told Verywell Health. "Those with a medical background like physicians, nurses, or paramedics can be assigned as a vaccinator or part of the monitoring team for the 15-minute wait post-vaccine."
But you don't have to be a medical professional at all to volunteer; vaccination sites also need a ton of administrative assistance from the general population. According to Fast Company, some common roles include greeting people who arrive and confirming their eligibility, directing people to the correct line, helping people schedule second doses, interpreting for those who don't speak English, helping guide the flow of traffic, and managing the parking situation. To see what you should skip before your shot, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said Don't Take This Medication With the COVID Vaccine.
All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to volunteer at a vaccine site.
As Verywell Health points out, some states organize vaccination site volunteer sign-ups through official state websites, like Georgia, Utah, Arizona, and California. But if you don't see an option on your state's site, try your county's website for local volunteering information.
Some areas already have so much interest in volunteering that they're no longer accepting applications, but more opportunities should open up as more vaccine shipments arrive. If you are able to apply, know that the process can take a couple of weeks because sites often want to perform a background check and may ask you to complete some compliance training. To see what you should stay away from after your shot, check out Don't Do This Until a Month After Your COVID Vaccine, Experts Warn.