Emmi Explains: Are you eligible for the COVID vaccine?

When President Biden took office, he made a goal to get at least 100 million vaccine shots into Americans' arms in his first 100 days — and we’re already way past that with more than a month to spare. But vaccine eligibility can be confusing depending on where you live. Yahoo News Producer Emmi Vélez explains.

Video Transcript

EMMI VELEZ: When President Biden took office, he made the goal to get 100 million COVID vaccine shots into Americans' arms within his first 100 days in office. And we're already way past that goal with more than a month to spare. So now the administration is literally doubling down and saying that they want to hit 200 million shots by the end of April.

But in order to do that, way more people are going to need appointments. And that can be kind of confusing to do, depending on which state you live in. Each state has its own guidelines for who is eligible to receive the vaccine, and the requirements typically break down into three criteria: your age, what you do for a living, and comorbidities, which is just a fancy way of saying a preexisting condition that might put you at a greater risk, like autoimmune deficiencies, asthma, or even high blood pressure.

Age is probably the easiest criteria to understand. Early on, pretty much every state prioritized vaccines to elderly populations. But now, it's a lot more varied from state to state. For example, in Mississippi, anyone 16 or over can get a vaccine. But in Illinois, it's still 65 and over, at least for the next few weeks.

But most states imposing age restrictions do make exceptions for adults with high-risk medical conditions. A lot of states require a doctor's note or referral before you can make an appointment based on a comorbidity. In some states like New York, you can register yourself, and it's more of an honor code. There's no confirmation of pre-existing conditions needed from your doctor, although you really should be honest on those forms, because skipping ahead in line is just totally uncool.

Finally, if you have a high-risk job, like being a doctor or you're another kind of frontline worker, chances are that your state has some exceptions. You should check to see if your job meets current requirements. And when in doubt, your employer may be able to help you figure it out.

Because each state has different guidelines and they're being updated regularly, it's really important to look up the specific rules for where you live. There are tons of online resources, but your best bet is to go directly to your state's website. When in doubt, just search COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in your state, and you'll be able to find what you're looking for.

One more thing to note is that the Biden administration has instructed all states to open up vaccinations to adults by May 1st-- all adults by May 1st. But if you're eligible to get one before that, do not wait. Getting a majority of the population vaccinated is the only way out of this pandemic. But the great news is that there's hope on the horizon.