Booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment is like winning a contest on a radio show. You need luck. And you have to call, or in many cases, be online at the right time.
But there are easier ways to look for vaccine appointments.
Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County and hospitals like Jackson Health System usually post updates on Twitter about vaccine availability minutes before slots become available on their online portals.
You don’t have to monitor Twitter or be online 24/7. In fact, you can get the social media platform to do half of the work for you. While we can’t guarantee you’ll get a vaccine, the following tips should make the search easier.
Tips to find COVID vaccine appointments in South Florida
1. You and your family of vaccine hunters need Twitter accounts, if you don’t have one already. It’s easy and free. Visit twitter.com, click sign up and follow the on-screen instructions. Then download the Twitter app through your mobile phone or tablet’s app store and login.
2. Use the Twitter search feature to find the accounts of the hospitals, county or health department you want and click “Follow.” Once you are on one of the Twitter profiles, you should see a bell icon next to the word “Follow.” That’s the notification icon. Click it and then click “All Tweets.”
Now, whenever that account tweets, including about vaccine availability, you’ll get a notification. Then you can open the app, see if the tweet is about vaccines, and if it is, rush over to the website to try and book an appointment. And don’t worry, you can always click the bell icon and click “None” to unsubscribe later.
You can also get Twitter notifications on desktops and laptops, but the process is slightly more complicated and depends on your browser.
Here are some of the South Florida accounts we’ve seen tweet about vaccine availability:
Other social media and website monitoring tools
There are other online tools you can use in your quest to find available appointments though they might not be as easy to use.
Social media dashboards like TweetDeck (tweetdeck.twitter.com), for example, let you monitor multiple Twitter accounts in real-time, which is a good option for those who don’t want to download an app.
If you have a techie in the family, have them look into other online tools like sken.io (http://sken.io/) which can monitor website changes and alert you to when your hospital or county health department’s online portal has appointments available.
Caveats: Some of these online tools cost money, but for your purposes, look for ones that are free or offer free versions like TweetDeck. Those will be more than enough for your vaccine watch. Other online tools like sken.io offer free trials, but some might be complicated to use.
And, of course, don’t download or click links on websites you don’t recognize. If you’re considering going this route and using a website monitoring tool, do some research online and ask the techie in your family or friends for a recommendation.