NEWS

How to Use Social Media to Secure Your COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment

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Key Takeaways

  • Some local health departments and health institutions are using social media to disseminate information about available COVID-19 vaccine slots.
  • Older demographics are at a disadvantage in securing vaccine appointments online because they are often less technologically adept.
  • You can utilize social media to secure vaccine appointments by monitoring the right accounts and turning on notifications.

Although it’s been nearly two months since the country began COVID-19 vaccine distribution, plenty of Americans are still at a loss on how they can secure a vaccine appointment. Many state health departments have created vaccine registration portals to make the process easier, but websites often crash due to high traffic as people check repeatedly for open slots.

To inform people when more vaccine doses are becoming available, local health departments and health institutions have taken to announcing vaccine availability through social media. In Oklahoma, the Washington and Wagoner County Health Departments use their Facebook pages to post when vaccine appointments are available on the portal and when the slots have been filled. The Jackson Health System in Florida does the same, but through their Twitter and Instagram accounts instead. 

“Social media provides a quick, flexible platform to disseminate information directly to Oklahomans," Jackie Shawnee, chief communications officer at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), tells Verywell. "It is one of several methods we use to communicate about the vaccine. Our goal in communicating about the vaccine is to be transparent, timely, and to reach as many Oklahomans as possible."

What This Means For You

In order to secure a vaccine appointment, you can try using various social media platforms to check for availability in your area. Some health departments and systems are posting updates on their social media platforms. Monitor the social media accounts of local governments, health departments, and medical institutions to receive instant updates, and make sure to turn on notifications for their posts.

Quick Information Dissemination

Announcing vaccine availability through social media can provide social media users with instant and timely updates. As soon slots become available, some local governments, health departments, and medical institutions are immediately announcing the availability on their accounts.

Because online updates are instantaneous, many Americans have successfully booked vaccine slots by monitoring various social media platforms. Mari Fajardo, a social worker in Miami, has secured vaccine appointments thanks to tweets from the Jackson Health System. 

“Whenever I got an alert on my phone that they had tweeted, I checked to see if it was that they were opening up appointments," Fajardo tells Verywell. "Usually by the time I logged on to their website it either wouldn’t load or the appointments were all taken. I was finally able to get appointments after many tries on Tuesday."

Joanna Palmer, a communications and media relations director in Miami, managed to secure vaccine slots by monitoring tweets as well. “This was the only way I was able to nab coveted and limited appointments in a timely manner as they would book up very quickly,” Palmer tells Verywell. “Because vaccine supply in Florida, and throughout the country, is limited, and [the] arrival of vaccines is sporadic, social media is a great platform to announce vaccine availability because it operates in real time.”

According to Shawnee, social media can be a good way to provide accessible and timely updates. However, it’s not everyone’s preferred method of receiving information and it might not be the most convenient avenue for older demographics, so the OSDH utilizes other avenues like broadcast news as well.

Seniors Are at a Disadvantage

Social media may provide immediate notification of available vaccine slots, but it’s not the best method to reach older adults. For weeks now, Americans over 65 years of age have been struggling to secure vaccine appointments, and as the supply of doses remains short of demand, many are getting left behind.

A 2019 report by the Pew Research Center shows that 27% of people aged 65 and above don’t use the internet at all. Even though older adults are one of the first priority groups to receive the vaccine, the online process of securing an appointment automatically puts many who are less technologically savvy at a disadvantage.

“If you know how to navigate social media, it can be easy to monitor updates," Palmer says. "However, for those who rarely use social media—such as the current eligible 65 plus population for vaccination—it can be daunting and confusing to try to monitor multiple social media accounts." She booked eight vaccine appointments for adults she knew over the age of 65 because, according to her, none of them would have been able to see social media notifications about vaccine availability or navigate the process of securing their own appointments by themselves.

This is also the case for Fajardo, who booked appointments for relatives that don't know how to use the internet. “Older people and many non-English speakers in Miami do not understand the process and are therefore having to rely on someone else to help them secure appointments," she says. "If they have no one, no vaccine. I have made appointments for nine family members for this very reason. They aren’t able to do it themselves."

Fajardo believes that there should be a waitlist where people can be contacted for their turn instead of chasing after available slots and endlessly checking different platforms. She likens the ordeal to the “Hunger Games,” the 2008 dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins where participants in a nationally-televised event have to kill other players to survive and risk being killed themselves. The Miami-Dade County Health System recently instituted a similar waitlist process.

Using Social Media to Secure Vaccine Appointments

Younger family members are stepping up to help their older relatives, but strangers are volunteering their time to help others secure vaccine appointments as well. Many individuals all over the country have formed various Facebook groups to get in touch with those who need help chasing vaccine slots as soon as they become available. There are groups for cities like New York and Pittsburgh, but also states such as New Jersey, South Florida, and Washington.

If you need an extra hand in securing a vaccine appointment, you can approach volunteers for help. It's important to be cautious when giving out personal details to strangers, especially during a time where vaccine scams are prevalent. However, relying on family members, friends, or trusted members of the community for help can be a good alternative.

“Once the [vaccine] criteria begin to open up to those who are younger, social media will be an excellent way to notify people of vaccine appointments,” Palmer says.

To search for available vaccine slots using social media platforms, carefully monitor the accounts of your state, county, and city and set notification alerts for their new posts. Keep checking the accounts of hospitals and other health institutions near you as well. If you don’t succeed in booking an appointment at first, don’t lose hope and just keep trying.

“Everyone has a fear of missing out on vaccines right now but it is going to be a long process to get everyone vaccinated and it will eventually become easier," Palmer says. "Ultimately, the goal of all these institutions is to get needles into arms." She recalls how there used to be selective criteria for COVID-19 testing when it first rolled out almost a year ago, but now it is more accessible and widely available to everyone. This is how she expects the vaccine rollout to turn out as well, but everyone needs to be patient in the process, she says.

“Continue to monitor accounts that provide updates and don't give up because a life can literally depend on receiving the vaccine,” Palmer says.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pew Research Center. Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet. Updated June 12, 2019.

  2. Federal Communications Commission. COVID-19 Vaccines Scams. Updated February 5, 2021.