Update as of January 25th, 2020: During the process of scheduling vaccine appointments, we received an automated notification from NC’s Vaccine Management and upon log-in, found that an eligible 65+ adult was not listed as eligible in the online system. After discussing this with the local county’s health department, we were told this is a glitch in the state’s computer system and to disregard this notification and to come to your appointment regardless. The key point? Do not assume your appointment is cancelled unless you hear DIRECTLY from the vaccinating source. So long as your loved one meets that county’s eligibility requirements, continue forward as planned.
Are you looking for tips for scheduling an online Covid-19 vaccine appointment for seniors in Charlotte, North Carolina? Well, you’re in the right place! We have scheduled several appointments online for older adults since vaccines became available in our state. Below, we’ll share what we’ve learned to date.
Step One: Define Your Geographic Target Area in North Carolina
North Carolina is off to a slow start in distributing available vaccines supplied by the Federal Government. Currently, North Carolina ranks #35 out of all states in % of vaccine distributed. (If you’d like to keep up-to-date with vaccine distribution, you can follow the New York Times’ vaccine tracker here.)
Because of the current back-up, we recommend you contact multiple counties if you want to schedule a Covid-19 vaccine appointment online in January or February for a senior loved one.
To get started, we recommend you identify a geographic target area that in your opinion, is within reasonable driving distance from your loved one’s home. Next, write down a list of all the counties located within that geographic target area.
Now, you’re ready for step two.
Step Two: Do Your Research
Now that you know which North Carolina counties you are targeting; you’ll want to visit this website:
Once on the website, scroll down to the bottom of the page until you reach a blue table. The table will contain the names of each North Carolina county in alphabetical order. Find the counties on your list and then write down the information associated with each of your target locations. The chart looks like this:
Next up, you’ll want to get straight to work, visiting any designated websites or Facebook pages associated with your counties. You should also google local news sources as they very often are the first to report on available appointments or mass vaccination events in a county. Make sure to bookmark the sites on your browser or just keep them open so they’re easy to find in the future should you need to check daily.
While you’re researching online, if your loved one is able and willing, ask them to start calling the counties on your list at the phone number listed. Instruct them to schedule an appointment if they are able by phone or simply to write down any information the Health Department representative gives them about upcoming vaccination clinics.
(Pro tip: Hold times at most health departments can be long and frustrating. Warn your loved one in advance about the wait. Tell them to focus on calling a few a day if calling everyone on your list becomes too frustrating.)
Remember, the state refreshes vaccine supplies weekly. Supply should improve over time and in many counties, there are multiple vaccine distribution sources. New appointments should be opened each week barring additional delays or supply issues. Check back frequently, stay calm and above all, stay persistent.
Last but not least, it’s very important to check EACH county’s eligibility requirements to ensure your loved one qualifies for a vaccine. As an example, while North Carolina has opened Phase Two for adults 65+ and health professionals, some counties may still be restricted to Phase 1 or adults 75+ due to logistical issues or low supply.
Step Three: Ready to Register
Now that you’ve been patient and regularly checked local news sources, you receive great news. A Health Department in one of your selected counties is opening vaccine scheduling online the next day!
Ready for action? Here’s what you need to do:
– Make sure your computer is connected to the internet and plugged in!
– Get to the website about 10 minutes early. Familiarize yourself with the form so you know exactly where to go and how to input information.
– Make sure you have your loved one’s date of birth and full mailing address handy. Also make sure you have a list of any of their chronic health issues that may place them in a Covid-19 high risk category. Unless your loved one is an avid email user, we recommend using your own email address and phone number.
– Starting about two minutes before the time appointments open, refresh your browser every 15 seconds or so. (We’re not sure this actually helps, but it did help us stay sane and kept our fingers nimble!)
-When appointments open online, you’ll note that the drop down for a particular day will no longer say ‘no appointments available’. Instead, you’ll see a list of available times and days. Click on one that works for you, but we recommend that you be as flexible as possible. This is a time for urgency, not convenience.
-Proceed through the form, answering a few questions about your loved one’s occupation (you can select ‘none’ or ‘retired’), their age, and any Covid-specific health risks they may have. Finally, press confirm.
IMPORTANT: After completing your form, you may notice that the time you originally selected is no longer available. If that’s the case, the system will not allow you to press ‘confirm’. You may also note that the appointment time appears grey. That’s simply because someone completed a form before you submitted yours for the same time. Just scroll back up to the top and select another time and then confirm. Again, you’ll have better luck if you can be absolutely flexible on your time.
In conclusion, the key to scheduling a Covid-19 vaccine appointment online for seniors in North Carolina is to focus on several counties, to monitor announcements regularly and to quickly prepare for action once appointments are announced.
In some cases, counties will allow you to sign up for text reminders or a waiting list so you can be called when a vaccine becomes available. We encourage you to do this, even if the wait seems quite long at first. As supply improves, more appointments will open.
And finally, if your loved one is a patient at one of one of the large North Carolina health systems like Atrium or Novant, you may find a link to schedule a vaccine appointment in their electronic health record.
While these appointments may be several weeks away, they do present another option for your loved one if you are unsuccessful online.
We wish you the best of luck in scheduling an appointment online for your loved one and hope this blog alleviates some stress and hastens your journey. Until then, stay safe and healthy.
Your friends at CarePods.