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Strategies to score a COVID-19 vaccine appointment: Zip code lists, time zone changes and multiple profiles

If your frustration is mounting, viewers share their best tips and tricks beyond the go-to websites to secure a shot at pharmacies.

Booking an appointment to get a vaccine can be tough. If you've tried the popular websites like "Vaccine Spotter" and "Vaccine Hunters" without any luck, there are other more specific tips that might do the trick.

They worked for Andover mom Kassie Mauch and her family. She scored appointments for all four of them this week. 

"It's out there, you just have to have the time and resources to find it," said Mauch, who spent most of her time searching online from her dinner table. "It took me about 11 hours over the course of a week and checking multiple sites all day."

She was mostly focused on finding the Pfizer vaccine for her 16 and 17-year-old daughters who play sports and work in food service. 

"They're both excited because they feel like it gives them that next sense of freedom," said Mauch, who also relied on three devices - her iPhone, iPad and a laptop. 

First of all, Mauch says create a list of zip codes and search for appointments using those and not names of cities. There are lists online and you can narrow them down to where you're willing to travel. 

Second, keep refreshing each website to update the appointment availability, especially at CVS and Walmart. Costco and Thrifty White do it automatically when there are new appointments.

Third, change your clock - especially if you want an appointment through Walmart.

"What I found is if you set your device ahead to New York or Eastern Time, the appointments will drop at 11 p.m. Central Time," said Mauch. "They’re adding these appointments at midnight Eastern Time and if you set your device ahead, you can actually get them right away at 11 p.m."

Mauch's fourth tip is to create a user profile with each pharmacy for everyone you're booking for ahead of time. She didn't and lost several appointments because of it. 

 "I only had one profile and so, if you don’t have profiles you lose those appointments because they don’t give you enough time to actually fill it out," explained Mauch.

Filling out the forms online for each profile takes awhile and the site will time out, taking the appointment with it.

Lastly, don't bother uploading your insurance card. It also takes too much time and it's not necessary online.

"If you say you don’t have it, then you don’t have to go through extra steps and you won’t lose your spot," said Mauch. "But if you bring your card when you actually check-in, then it’s fine."

These are just a handful of hacks that Mauch hopes will help others and keep her own family safe too.

"It's not just protecting the kids for their day to day life, it's planning for the future," said Mauch.

It's important to note that not everyone has the time or technology to get an appointment like this. You can also get a shot through your health care provider - they should call you to schedule it. There are also appointments available at some county public health departments.

The Minnesota Department of Health is also doing some mobile clinics in targeted communities. It added a ninth mass vaccination site Friday at the old YMCA in Lino Lakes.

MDH also encourages everyone to sign up on the "Vaccine Connector" through the state and register for a vaccine appointment. 

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