COVID-19 vaccine appointments fill up fast and new ones can pop up with little to no warning. The best advice is to keep trying.
Navigating the process can be complicated and usually means visiting several websites, with each requiring its own registration, or waiting on hold to try and book by phone.
Here's how to book an appointment depending on where you live:
Washington, D.C., Residents
Residents who are 65 and older in priority zip codes are among those first in the District who are eligible to get the shot.
As of Thursday, D.C. residents with qualifying medical conditions ages 16 and up are also now eligible for vaccinations as the District moves into Phase 1C Tier 1.
- Start at vaccinate.dc.gov to find out how many doses are available and when the next round of bookings will open.
- Click on the “Proceed to Vaccination Registration Portal” button to register. There’s a short form to fill out. (If there are no appointments available, the button will be grayed out.)
- Scroll through the list of locations and click on the blue hyperlinked name to book an appointment.
- Submit the form then expect a confirmation email.
If you need help navigating the site or don’t have reliable internet access, you can try the district’s call center at 855-363-0333.
If there are no appointments available, you can sign up for email or text alerts to find out when appointments free up at vaccinate.dc.gov.
D.C. hospitals are also contacting and vaccinating D.C. residents who are eligible for the vaccine. To qualify, you need to have been in the health system within the past two years.
Medstar Health has its own portal at https://covidvaccine.medstarhealth.org and includes links for people who live in D.C., Maryland and Virginia to register.
Howard University Hospital, Sibley Hospital and Kaiser Permanente each have their own vaccine registration websites, while George Washington University Hospital says they’ll reach out to you once an appointment is available.
Several D.C. health centers are administering the shots too. Places like the Community of Hope and Mary’s Center have individual links and phone numbers.
Maryland is in Phase 1C, which means adults 65 and older as well as essential workers including employees at grocery stores, in mass transit and the mail service are eligible to get the vaccine through a hospital or a local health department. But supplies are limited.
The state is only getting about 10,000 vaccine doses a day – for over 1.5 million people who are eligible.
Head to covidvax.maryland.gov to get started. Enter your ZIP code for the list of places offering the vaccine and the requirements.
For additional resources, visit www.marylandvax.org/. The website includes vaccination sites with a breakdown to show whether the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is being offered and how many appointments are open.
The Montgomery and Prince George’s County health departments also set up their own websites, but you can’t book an appointment there.
Instead you’ll have to pre-register and you’ll be notified when appointments become available. Leaders warn that could take several weeks.
In the meantime, you can sign up for email or text alerts.
- Montgomery County – www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/
- Prince George's County – www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3730/COVID-19-Vaccination
- Howard County – www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Health/MM-Alerts-and-Recalls/COVID-19-Vaccine
- Anne Arundel County – aahealth.org/covid-19-vaccine-faq/
If you're a Maryland health care worker, vaccines are being distributed through various medical centers.
Nursing home residents in Maryland will be given vaccines onsite at their facilities through a CVS and Walgreens partnership with the CDC.
Virginia now has a unified system for getting on the COVID-19 vaccine waitlist.
Anyone who lives or works in the state can sign up to get contacted when they are eligible to schedule an appointment through the statewide vaccine preregistration website.
The new system will make it easier to get your shots, the state health department said.
For residents without internet, or who prefer to preregister over the phone can call (877) VAX-IN-VA.
Virginia can also use the vaccine call center for help with any questions about vaccines. The hotline at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343), will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with staff available to help people who don’t have computers or who have difficulty using them. Language translation services are available.
Virginia’s health department has a website to help navigate the process - that’s at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.
To see who’s eligible for a vaccine right now, Virginia residents can visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/. Right now, Phase 1b includes front-line essential workers, adults 65 and older and those with underlying medical conditions that are at high-risk for getting the coronavirus.
From there, the hub links to other web pages where you can book an appointment. Remember, getting your shot largely depends on availability in your county.
You can click “find out which phase your county or city is in” – and then click where the map to see where you fall.
Each county health department has its own site too, but requirements and registration vary.
Many hospitals and health departments don’t know how many doses they’ll get from week to week, and supplies are low, just like we’ve seen in Maryland and D.C.
- Fairfax County – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/vaccine
- City of Alexandria – www.alexandriava.gov/health/info/default.aspx?id=119270
- Loudoun County – www.loudoun.gov/covid19vaccine
- Prince William County – coronavirus.pwcgov.org/vaccine-information/ & VDH
Guidance for Virginia health workers seeking to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has been issued by the Virginia Disaster Medical Advisory Committee. Health care facilities in the state are working to vaccinate their workers with the initial batches of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Phase 1a, health care workers who do not have access to the vaccine through their workplace should contact their local health department, Virginia officials say.
Nursing home residents are receiving vaccines onsite at their facilities by CVS and Walgreens teams, who have partnered with the CDC.
West Virginia Residents
Currently, West Virginia health officials are encouraging residents to pre-register through the state's Department of Health and Human Resources pre-registration system.
Due to the limited supply of vaccine, pre-registration doesn't guarantee immediate access to vaccination, but it will give you the opportunity to receive real-time updates on vaccine availability and make scheduling an appointment easier.
You can sign up to pre-register here: https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.
Residents should not use the online sign-up portal if they've already received their first dose of vaccine or if they've already been placed on a waitlist through a local health department or healthcare provider.
When Could I Get the Vaccine?
Answer the questions to calculate your risk profile and see where you fall in your county's and state's vaccine lineup. This estimate is based on a combination of vaccine rollout recommendations from the CDC and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group, see this methodology.
Source: the Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 by Ariadne Labs and the Surgo Foundation
Interactive by Amy O’Kruk/NBC
Some pharmacies are offering the vaccine too, so you can check there for availability.
The bottom line with all of this is to be patient.
Once you’ve gotten the first dose, the process varies when it comes to booking your second one a few weeks later.
Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine – which only needs one dose -- is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness, the FDA confirmed, paving the way for approval. Doses are already being shipped out in anticipation of approval.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Jan. 21 that 70 – 80% of Americans could be vaccinated by the end of summer, which would allow the U.S. to return to a degree of normalcy by fall.