Trying to get a Covid-19 vaccine in Georgia? Follow these tips.

With demand high in metro Atlanta, snagging an appointment can be harder than it should be. But with some persistence and strategy, you can get your shot.

How to get Covid-19 vaccine Atlanta Georgia
A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine at the FEMA site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Photograph courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Stadium

It’s open season for Covid-19 vaccination in Georgia. As of today (March 25), the state’s 8 million adults are all eligible (plus a few hundred thousand 16- and 17-year-olds), and only about 1 million of them are already fully vaccinated. That’s a lot of competition for vaccine appointments.

Think of this as a rush for tickets to the hottest concert of the year—with new concert dates appearing and new tickets being dumped at regular intervals. There’s a confusing array of places to get the vaccine, from your doctor’s office to a mass vaccination site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, from your local grocery store to a big-box store. Each one has varying capacity.

It sounds daunting, but remember—you’ve already survived the other myriad challenges of the past year. This is your shot at a post-pandemic life. Here’s how to get it.

What’s the best website for getting a vaccine appointment?
Unfortunately, there’s not a single website that will check every vaccination site. It’s a fragmented system. On the bright side, if you can’t find an appointment at one outlet, you can try several others.

Are there any tricks to navigating the sign-up?
Two Facebook groups use crowd-sourcing to help people get appointments: Georgia Vaccine Hunters and GA COVID VAX APPT HELP. Your best bet is to be online when new appointments are released. For Walmart, Sam’s Club and Kroger, that is likely to be at midnight, according to the crowd-sourced advice. Publix releases appointments at 7 a.m. on Thursdays. Walgreens and CVS update at midnight or 6 or 7 a.m. Only fill out the necessary information on the online forms. You can provide your insurance info later (or you can still get the vaccine free of charge if you don’t have insurance). It may sound counter-intuitive, but some people have reported success by calling the Georgia DPH scheduling line at 888-457-0186.

All the sites say there are no appointments for the next month. Help!
Keep trying. Many sites only schedule vaccinations within the next week, and new appointments open as vaccine supply expands. Check if your doctor is giving the vaccine. This vaccine finder includes independent pharmacies, which may not be getting the same online traffic as the major retailers. Pharmacies and mass vaccinations sites outside the metro area may have available appointments. And even though everyone is currently eligible, you can still call pharmacies toward the end of the day (typically 4 or 5 p.m.) to see if they have excess doses from no-shows. You’ll need to get there quickly to snag one.

What if I want a specific vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson)?
This “vaccine spotter” site includes information about which vaccine is available at different locations, and it allows you to filter your search based on the vaccine type. That said, vaccine supplies are shifting and pharmacies may receive a new type. You can check with the individual pharmacy, or search one of the crowd-sourcing sites for information about where people are receiving your vaccine of choice. Remember: the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for those aged 16 and older; the other two are for those 18 and older.

How can I get an appointment for a second dose?
Many vaccination sites book a second appointment for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines at the time of the first dose or they promise to send a reminder email. (J&J is one shot only.) If you need to schedule your second dose on your own, check out this link for second dose appointments at mass vaccination sites. Some retail pharmacies, such as CVS, provide online scheduling for a second-dose only. Don’t stress if you don’t get your second dose exactly 21 days after the first Pfizer or 28 days after Moderna; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that you can safely get the second dose up to 42 days after the first.

Can I get my kids vaccinated?
Only 16- and 17-year-olds can currently get a Covid vaccine, and they are only eligible for the Pfizer shot. Vaccines are being tested in younger teenagers and children (Moderna and Pfizer are studying children as young as 6 months old), but it will take months before there’s enough data to enable approval of a vaccine for children.