In the US, 17% of the population is fully vaccinated 0:36
(CNN) – If you are not eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, you will soon be if you live in the United States.
All 50 states in the country plan to open eligibility to vaccinate to everyone over the age of 16, and several states have already done so, including Alaska, Mississippi and Georgia. According to President Joe Biden, 90% of all adult Americans will be eligible for vaccination by April 19.
While the supply of vaccines increases over time, demand still exceeds what is available in many places, especially in densely populated areas. People in big cities have compared trying to get a vaccination appointment to trying to get online tickets to a concert by a very popular band. (Do you remember those days?)
READ: All 50 US states expanded or will extend eligibility to get the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone 16 years of age and older
Here are some tips to help you get fully vaccinated and get your life back to being something more normal than it probably has been for more than a year.
How to get the vaccine
You will almost always need an appointment, and a good starting point for making one is with your state or county health department. This CNN article has links to the websites of every state health department, along with phone numbers and email addresses to contact if you have questions.
Another good place to start is with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Covid-19 Vaccine Finder, or by using their portal to connect with your state’s department of health, or territory.
The pharmacies that are vaccinating also have their own scheduling websites. The CVS website, for example, will tell you where the vaccine is available. So if it’s not available in your city or county, at the time you’re trying to make an appointment, it may be in a neighboring area.
Availability changes quickly, so if you find a space available, reserve it before someone else does. However, be sure to cancel your appointment if you cannot attend, so someone else can get that space.
Pharmacies are also offering the vaccine left over at the end of the day, because people didn’t show up for their appointments, to the adults who want it. A pharmacist at a Walmart in the Atlanta area recently said that all of his employees were vaccinated, largely thanks to the leftover doses, and now he’s offering them to others who are there at the right time at the end of the day. A Kroger pharmacy in the area said it keeps a list of people they want to call them when there are leftover vaccines.
Social media can be helpful. Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, recently launched a number of tools to help people get vaccinated, including its Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information Center.
And, of course, you can use social networking sites to collect information. Search Facebook for private groups in your area that are dedicated to finding vaccines. Some people have reported that their neighbors on the Nextdoor app helped them find vaccination appointments.
READ: Covid in Latin America: this is how the week of April 5 begins in some of the most affected countries in the region
You may have to travel to get vaccinated
If you can travel, there are almost always more spaces available in rural areas when they are hard to find in a city. In Georgia, for example, it can be difficult to get an appointment in the Atlanta area, but appointments are plentiful for the next few days in rural southern parts of the state.
Announcing a federal program to ship vaccine doses directly to pharmacies in addition to US states and territories, Jeff Zients, the White House covid-19 response coordinator, said that pharmacies are “easily accessible in most communities, and most Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy.
However, some rural areas may not have a pharmacy nearby, and residents may need to search for mobile vaccination clinics in their area. The recently approved American Rescue Plan includes a national vaccination program that will fund mobile units for hard-to-reach areas.
The key is to be patient, flexible, and determined. You will have a date, sooner or later.
READ: How Long Will Coronavirus Vaccines Protect People?
What to do while waiting in line to get vaccinated
So now you have a date. You’re so close to getting that first or, better yet, your final dose.
But what if there is a really long line of people once you get there? In order not to go crazy with boredom, be sure to bring a phone, tablet, or laptop.
Other ideas include documenting your experience with the vaccine or planning how you will use your freedom once you are fully inoculated.
When was the last time you were in a crowd this size? Maybe you can take the opportunity to make a new friend.
Welcome to the fully vaccinated club
Did you get your vaccinations? Congratulations! Go hug a grandson. Hug a vaccinated friend. Invite friends who are fully vaccinated and visit them without masks. Visit other people in their homes, as long as they are not considered especially vulnerable if they contract COVID-19.
If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you can skip the quarantine once you are fully vaccinated.
If you are one of the many who had COVID-19 and still suffer symptoms, some of the so-called ‘long haulers’ or people in whom the disease persisted for a long time report that their symptoms decreased or even disappeared after being vaccinated.
As some have said, getting vaccinated is a psychological game changer – you may feel like you’ve lifted a weight.
And who is not looking forward to traveling again? Some destinations are opened for those who have been vaccinated.
READ: Will it be easier to travel in times of pandemic?
Just remember that it takes two weeks after your last vaccination to be fully immunized.
And don’t throw away your mask just yet. You still need to protect those around you who have not yet been vaccinated. Although some studies indicate that immunized people do not transmit the virus, it is not yet safe.