MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - With about 55,000 members, the Minneapolis Vaccine Hunters Facebook group has become a go-to resource for many Minnesotans.
There are some tricks of the trade founder Maura Caldwell has learned over the last couple of months.
"If it were me, I would ask the people around me if they've been vaccinated and how they got vaccinated because sometimes if you are not on Facebook or an internet person, just hearing from someone you know, being able to ask questions I think is a great resource," said Caldwell.
Since many health care systems are still prioritizing the most vulnerable Minnesotans, Caldwell says your best bet to get a shot may be through a pharmacy, which are now accepting everyone 16 and older. Caldwell says different chains tend to post their available appointments at different times. Walmart and CVS tend to go up around midnight, while Walgreens posts between 2 to 6 a.m. Those are the best times to find an appointment before they're snapped up.
"If you know I'm going to look for Walmart at midnight that's one thing I can do," said Caldwell. "Chances are you'll find one eventually. If you are looking willy nilly all the time, it’s really easy to miss all of them."
Caldwell says aggregators like Vaccine Spotter, which update available appointments from many different websites in one place every few minutes and Facebook groups like hers, are also helpful to keep from being overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways to find a vaccine.
Signing up for the state and various county vaccine connector websites can also be helpful, but she says if you want a shot, don't wait for someone to contact you.
"Proactively look but don't expect it to happen today," she said. "It might happen today and that will be great but if it’s a few days from now what's a few days. It'll happen soon."
Sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector
About 850,000 people have registered on the website, state officials said.
If you are selected for an appointment at a mass vaccination site, you will be notified via email, text or phone by Primary Bio, Vault Health or SpeciaLysts (Solv). Emails will arrive from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or Solv (SpecialLysts), so be sure to keep an eye on your spam folder. Phone calls will arrive from 954-716-7771.
Anyone with questions about the community vaccination program can contact the Minnesota COVID-19 Public Hotline at 1-833-431-2053 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Appointments are required at the mass vaccination sites.
Contact your health care provider or pharmacy
Minnesotans can contact their health care provider to schedule a vaccine appointment. The state is directing providers to prioritize appointments for older Minnesotans, those with underlying health conditions, and those in frontline jobs.
Make sure your contact information is in your MyChart account with your health care provider so they can contact you if they have available appointments.
Sign up on pharmacy websites
Minnesotans can sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments directly on pharmacy websites:
- Thrifty White
- Cub Foods
The state is asking chain pharmacies to redirect doses from rural locations—where there are often available appointments—into the Twin Cities metro.
Visit the Vaccine Spotter website, which is a tool created to help people track down COVID-19 vaccine appointment openings at pharmacies across Minnesota. The website is updated every few minutes.
Use the Vaccine Locator Map to find a vaccine provider near you
Minnesotans can use the state’s Vaccine Locator Map to search for vaccine providers in their area. All vaccinations are by appointment only, and each provider manages its own schedules and appointments.
Not all providers are offering appointments to everyone right now. People should contact providers to confirm vaccination location and hours and that they have vaccine doses and appointments available.