Mar 18, 2021 - News

Tips for snagging leftover COVID vaccines in Tampa Bay

Illustration of a waiting ticket with the number 19 on it and a symbol of a syringe. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you're not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, but still hoping to score an extra shot, you're not alone.

The state of play: Vaccine hunting is hard work. If you want a chance at getting the shot early, you've gotta stay organized and make time.

  • Hunters around the state are teaming up, sharing tips and tricks to get an extra dose.

Try these tips from the Florida Vaccine Hunters group on Facebook.

  • Get organized. Members have shared spreadsheets with pharmacies, their locations, phone numbers, when to call and their likelihood of having extra doses. The group also tracks where people do end up scoring extra shots.
  • Always talk to a person. A lot of phone systems have an option to press a number for information on the vaccine. (At Publix, it's usually 5.) Don't press it. The number hangs up on you or offers an automated message that directs to a website. Learn each system so you can get to a person as quickly as possible.
  • Know what to say. If a pharmacy doesn't have any extra shots, check to see if they have a "waste avoidance list" to be on-call for any extra doses. Some do, some don't. Walmarts or pharmacies that don't have the vaccine yet are more likely to have lists.
    • Worth noting: Some places are willing to vaccinate ineligible people, but some aren't.
  • Read the room. Pharmacists are tired. Some are testier than others when asked about second doses and waitlists. One member noted that some who answered the phone didn't take kindly to her "worth a shot" joke.

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


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