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Are You 65+? You’re Probably Eligible For the COVID-19 Vaccine Today! Ted S. Warren/AP
Ted S. Warren/AP

As Covid-19 vaccinations expand across the country, different groups of people are eligible on a rolling basis. With so many restrictions and a relatively low vaccine supply, it can be confusing and difficult to book your vaccine appointment. Perhaps your age or underlying health conditions and now allow you to move ahead in the process. But keep in mind that vaccine eligibility varies state by state. If you live in New York, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or Illinois, check out the resources below to learn about your local vaccine distribution. It might take time, but eventually, you can find a vaccination site and plan your next pandemic steps.

What You Need to Know About the Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines

Following nearly a year of clinical trials, the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization. Although the Covid vaccine marks the first mRNA rollout, this new type of vaccine is a long time coming; studies have been ongoing for years. (Learn more here.) Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were found to be safe and effective, and they’re being offered by the federal government free of charge. The Pfizer vaccine boasts 95% effectiveness while Moderna has 94.1%. Keep in mind: you will probably not get to choose at your vaccination site. But don’t worry. Side effects from both vaccines are minimal: pain at the injection site and flu-like symptoms, especially following the second dose. When you receive your first dose, vaccine providers will arrange an appointment, roughly in one month, for you to return for the second dose. This will act as a booster shot, improving immunization. (The first dose alone offers roughly 60% protection against the Coronavirus.)

Although it’s possible for recipients to suffer an allergic reaction to the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says such adverse responses are rare. The allergy rate, which is under investigation, is currently 11 cases per 1 million patients: well below 1%. When it comes to new strains of the Coronavirus, information is still emerging. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear effective against the deadly UK strain, but antibodies are reduced when faced with the South Africa strain. It looks like another booster, eventually, may be necessary to combat this. Studies to determine whether vaccinated individuals can still pass on the virus (even if they are not sick) are also still underway. So keep your masks on!

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Arizona

The vaccination program in Maricopa County, Arizona (which includes Phoenix) is now open to the Phase 1B Priority Group. This means that in addition to the Phase 1A (comprised of EMS first responders and healthcare workers), new groups within the Phase 1b category can begin signing up. That includes adults aged 75+, K-12 teachers, childcare workers, law enforcement, and other protective services workers. Other groups in Phase 1B who are not yet eligible — but next in line — include food and agriculture workers, UPSS workers, and transit workers.

  • Adults 75+ click here.
  • Teachers and child care workers click here.
  • Protective service workers click here.
  • And remember: check appointment availability continuously until you book a spot!

Florida

Florida has made national news for its unconventional (and messy) vaccine rollout. After vaccinating at long-term care facilities, the state announced in late December that all residents over the age of 65 were eligible. Instantly there were lines stretching for blocks around vaccination sites. It was a pretty shocking spectacle, to see the large groups of mostly elderly folks waiting hopefully. Additionally, Florida is now experiencing a shortage for those returning (who are now overdue) for the second dose. While 1.2 million Floridians have received the first shot, only 155 thousand have gotten the second. A new rollout plan expected to be released soon.

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  • For now, Broward County residents can call (866) 201-6313 to request an appointment via telephone. For now, this seems to be the most direct option.
  • Jacksonville residents can check this link (continuously!) for updated information on how/where to get their first vaccine.

Illinois

Having vaccinated most healthcare personnel, on Monday, January 25, 2021, Illinois officially opened its vaccinations to Phase 1B: frontline essential workers and residents over age 65. In Illinois, the definition for frontline essential workers is broad. Phase 1B includes (but is not limited to) first responders: law enforcement, firefighters, 911 workers, security personnel, all school staff, food and agriculture workers, certain manufacturers, all prison staff, USPS workers, public transit workers (including rideshare drivers), all grocery store workers, and shelter and daycare staff.

Today, the rollout has expanded from various clinics to Walgreens, Walmarts, and Jewel Oscos. Find your nearest vaccination site here. From there, enter your city/zip code and then follow the prompted instructions to make an appointment. Today, this link was texted to Illinois residents to begin the mass sign-up process: www.zocdoc.com/vaccine-covid-19.

Kentucky

So far, Kentucky has offered the vaccine to all nursing home residents and staff. Additionally, about 65% of residents in living facilities have received their first vaccine clinic through CVS and Walgreens. As of February 1, Phase 1B residents are now eligible for their shot. That includes first responders, anyone age 70 or older, and K-12 school personnel. Slots should be opening up at Krogers and drive-through vaccination sites, though 1C folks may have to wait a little long. In Kentucky, Phase 1C includes anyone 60+, anyone 16+ with a high-risk underlying condition, and all essential workers. For more details on the Phase groups, check out this linkA more detailed map of possible vaccination sites is available here. Try signing up today, and contact your doctor if you need help securing an appointment.

New York

When Steve Martin was vaccinated at the Javits Center in New York City last week, he shared the process on Twitter. Currently, you are eligible to receive the vaccine in New York if you are a Phase 1A health care worker or a Phase 1B first responder, grocery store worker, corrections facility employee, school staff, transit worker, shelter worker, or an older adult (65+).

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If you live in the state of New York, please check this link continuously for available appointments. While it looks like the Javits Center is often filled up through that portal, those in NYC specifically can use this resource to find a different vaccination site near you and follow the directions for appointment sign-up.

Nevada

The state of Nevada is currently only vaccinated Tier 1: healthcare providers, first responders, lab workers, etc. When the vaccination system opens to other essential workers and the elderly, the age cut-off will be 70. You can fill out this survey to find out when you become eligible for a vaccine.

In Las Vegas, no-show appointments due to overall confusion are rampant. A low supply has also prompted the cancellation of appointments for many seniors, set for the first two weeks of February. As of now, it looks like receiving a vaccine in Nevada remains tough. We recommend calling your primary care physician for advice and pre-registering here. Additionally, you can consult these resources: NVCOVIDFighter.org and NVHealthResponse.nv.gov. Also, try calling this local hotline open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week: 1-800-401-0946. 

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, all residents 65+ in addition to those living in a skilled nursing or long-term facility are eligible to receive the vaccine. Use this link to find a vaccine provider. Using the green dots on the Pa.gov map, find a facility near you that currently has the vaccine. Then you can contact the clinic directly, through the listed phone number and/or email address. We recommend doing both! But please note: Philadelphia residents will need to navigate separately, by signing up through this form.

Texas

Texas is currently experiencing a limited supply of the Coronavirus vaccine. However, the first two phases are both currently eligible. Phase 1A: healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and Phase 1B: adults 65+, those 16+ with a chronic underlying condition, and pregnant women. Vaccine hub providers are listed here but since supply is short, you’ll have to be patient. Clicking around the various hub websites seems to yield very few openings. But don’t give up! Check the availability at these different sites regularly. You never know when there will be a cancellation. This cluster map also illustrates the availability (or lack thereof) across Texas.

As for when the later phases will receive their first dose, Texas has no new information. But those living in or near Austin can fill out this interest form. San Antonio residents may register here using the case-sensitive code DOMECOVID. Individuals in Houston should try refreshing this page daily.

Watch: FDA Confirms Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe and Effective

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan 26, 2021.

Emily Mack About the author:
Emily Mack is a staff writer for Rare. She currently lives in Chicago and has very strong opinions about where to find the best hot dog. She studied nonfiction writing at Columbia University in New York City, and recently graduated with the Ellis Avery Prize for creative writing. Her favorite topics are Cher, fast fashion, Chicago urban legends, and Jack Nicholson movies.
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