STERNBERG: Here’s How You Crack NY Vaccine Scheduling


Here’s How You Crack

NY Vaccine Scheduling

It Takes Determination, Stick-With-It-Ness


Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective to during the COVID-19

If you’re like me, and I only mean that in the COVID-phobic sense, you have been trying to figure out how to get vaccinated. I have been on-line an average of an hour a day for about two weeks trying to find appointments. Then I heard on the news that the New York State vaccination site at Jones Beach (Long Island) now has a three-month wait. What to do?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the priorities that the state, i.e., Governor Cuomo set out. 1A was to be healthcare workers on the frontlines and nursing home residents, 1B was to be essential workers, 1C was to be people over 65 and high-risk individuals.

Then it changed, and changed again.

Every state has its own priority system. Doses have gone unused. People are flying to Miami just to get vaccinated (and maybe a little sun while they are there).

In an effort to make it more sensical, the Governor this week recast priorities.

1A’s stayed the same and they have been receiving vaccinations. The hospitals/health care systems have been handling their own, contracted providers including pharmacy chains are vaccinating nursing home residents (and I believe the staff).

1B’s are now public facing essential workers of any age and people with risk factors. This includes people with certain diseases and everyone over 65. Immediately before the last change this was only those over 75 regardless of other risk factors.

The problem is that scheduling has become a free-for-all and in the process, servers are being flooded, appointments you think you are scheduling are gone by the time you have finished the registration process (which takes over five minutes) and it appears that some people have figured out how to avoid the mandated process for scheduling by using the personal touch. I don’t know what will now be considered 1C since those in it before have been rolled into 1B.

In any event, I and some of my friends have been trying to get appointments.

The state directed us to the Kinney Drug site (the closest pharmacy doing individuals in the public). I tried that site twice a day for three days but every time I thought I found an appointment I received a “No appointments available message” and please do not call or go to your pharmacy.

Then I discovered the New York State sites list. I had trouble navigating it and it required filling out a detailed form before getting an appointment. Again, nothing in Utica, Albany, Binghamton, Syracuse, and points west.

Then I went on again Friday night and found one appointment in Plattsburgh, yes Plattsburgh, 240 miles further north and 15 degrees colder than Cooperstown, in 10 days. I grabbed it. My family thought I was nuts trying to drive to Plattsburgh and back twice in the dead of winter.

Saturday morning I woke up about 6 a.m. and, as a lark, and to possibly help my friends and readers, I went through the whole exercise again. I was gobsmacked.

There was a whole roster of appointments available in Utica beginning Feb. 1. I rescheduled and cancelled my Plattsburgh appointment (which had a significant chance of falling apart because of weather related issues anyway).

I quickly started notifying friends, even though it was 7  in the morning. But within an hour I was informed that the month of February was booked at SUNY in Utica. I think about 10 people who I contacted were lucky enough to get the golden ticket.

Here is a strategy I recommend to schedule an appointment, at least it worked for me:

  • Go to the web site
  • Click the link on the left that says “Novel Coronavirus.”
  • Click the link “Vaccine Information.”
  • Click the link “Check Eligibility.”
  • Click “Get started.” Fill out the forms and follow further instructions. When it says “locate provider,” check out as many sites as you are willing to travel to.
  • Repeat frequently, probably three times a day if you are serious.
    Good luck.

Check for updates on available appointments but move quickly. I doubt any that I list will last more than an hour.

6 thoughts on “STERNBERG: Here’s How You Crack NY Vaccine Scheduling

  1. Kris Gildenblatt

    Thank you Richard, for this information. It is such an injustice to the older folks in our lives who do not understand how to navigate the world of the internet. Indeed, as a society we are not taking care of the most vulnerable if we require them to participate in such technological exercises. This system is horribly inadequate. Glad you have an appointment. Be well!

  2. hudi.podolsky

    Thanks for your story. I felt lucky to get appointments for my husband and myself on 2/8 in Binghamton. I did manage to get us on the same day (but not because the site made it easy!) although six hours apart. In normal times we might enjoy a day in Binghamton, but these are not normal times. I’m hoping we’ll be able to get our second appointments at the same time. And of course, if we’re really lucky, something will open up closer.

  3. Peter Collopy

    Great summary..some additional adds based on the Rite Aid link

    once you get in after waiting on line there will be some links to several “fillable” pdfs…you don’t need to fill out those forms to get the appt. We had a friend get hung filling out the pdf and trying to submit. You will need to print out the form for your current health status and bring that with you to the pharmacy. Again you don’t have to submit as part of the registration process.

    Also make sure you write down the address of the pharmacy. You’ll get a confirmation notice through email but the pharmacy address won’t be on it. My wife and her sister made appointments at the same time and luckily we checked at the last minute (by logging back into the registration) and it turned out they were scheduled for different pharmacies in Utica. Fortunately the Rite Aids aren’t that far apart in Utica so it wasn’t a big hassle but you could end up in the wrong place inadvertently.

    It does take a lot of patience and perseverance so don’t get discouraged-you’ll get there eventually.

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