Feb 9, 2021 - News

Tips for landing a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Des Moines

Illustration of a pattern of syringes, with a spotlight on one of them.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

I spent a week setting my alarm for 11:55 p.m. to wake up every night, furiously refreshing Hy-Vee's immunization page to land a vaccination appointment in Des Moines for my parents.

State of play: They got in through the Polk County Health Department and got their first doses on Feb. 1! These are my sleep-deprived tips for landing an appointment.

Polk County Health Department: Have your name, DOB, address and health insurance information ready to go. And turn on your browser's autofill to save time.

  • Spots are opening at noon this Friday. (Refresh this page around that time and be prepared to move fast.)

Hy-Vee: Search through each store on the site regularly and at different times of the day. (Don't bother filling in your personal info until you see a spot.)

  • When I called around, pharmacists were mixed regarding what time to check online. Some suggested 9-10am or even midnight.
  • Appointments are scheduled seven days out.

Medicap Pharmacy is currently focusing on second doses for health care workers, said John Forbes, Medicap Urbandale owner.

  • He suggests seniors come into the pharmacy and fill out paperwork so they can be called when vaccines are available. Sometimes there are extra doses at the end of the day that must be used before they expire.

Walgreens and CVS have limited appointments for Iowans 65+, though they also require tedious frequent webpage refreshing.

Your doctor: Some primary care facilities, like UnityPoint Health and Broadlawns Medical Center, are giving vaccines to their patients. Call and ask them specifics about their plans and when they're expecting supply.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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