How to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Michigan

In late February, I read a Detroit Free Press article about a Facebook group called the Detroit Area Vaccine Hunters, and I was intrigued. I had already been booking vaccine appointments for friends and family at that point; I clicked on the group, and saw they were looking for "Vaccine Angels" to help out, so I signed up and began making appointments for strangers. 

Fast-forward to today, April 11th, and I have probably made 200-300+ appointments for people. I'm well-versed in most of the national websites, like CVS's and Walmart's, and what makes the "game" interesting is that every day, more and more clinics pop up; originally, we were only relying on Rite Aid in the Metro Detroit area for vaccines, and large hospital systems like Beaumont, where I booked my parents at in mid-January. 

Those were actually the first vaccine appointments I made. Beaumont told everyone their process was invite-only, so basically a "wait and see" type of situation; however, a friend told me that if you were trying to get an appointment for someone 65+ years of age, you could call a certain number. Even if the number said they were out of vaccines, I was supposed to press 1, and then press 2, to talk to a human.

I called on a Wednesday and they said they could fit my parents in at Beaumont Dearborn on a Friday. I was floored. Why weren't more people sharing/talking about this phone number, versus just waiting by their computers for an emailed invitation from Beaumont?

As of last Monday, April 5th, eligibility is open to EVERYONE in Michigan, and appointments are now much easier to come by. Below are my tips and tricks for snagging one for yourself or friends/family. 

CVS COVID-19 vaccine

1. Make sure you stay up-to-date on the latest clinics to pop up. 

Like I said previously, the great news is that there are SO many clinics popping up! For example, just yesterday, this Sunshine clinic popped up for the Moderna vaccine, in Sterling Heights, and they have a TON of appointments, through mid-May. There's also this clinic in Detroit, for TODAY (4/11), which offers walk-ins

One of the best ways to do this is to join the Detroit Area Vaccine Hunters group that I linked to above. There are ALWAYS people posting new clinics and information. 

If you are 50+, and you are having trouble finding an appointment, you can always sign up for our Vaccine Angels form, and one of our angels (possibly me!) will find you an appointment. 

There are also two websites/docs that I've found useful: my friend Adrienne made this Google doc, and one of our Angels, Whitney, made this FANTASTIC website which is great if you are starting out. Also follow @kenhaddad on Twitter, he's a WDIV/ reporter who posts new vaccine spots pretty much hourly.

Walmart COVID-19 vaccine appointments

2. Make sure you know when the national sites refresh. 

There is somewhat of an art to this, because they don't all refresh at the same time. 
  • CVS: refreshes daily, either at 12am EST or at 5-6am EST. Just seems to depend on the day. 
  • Rite Aid: refreshes Tuesday through Saturday nights (so really, like Monday through Friday nights) at 12am, if there are appointments. Right now it seems like most area Rite Aids are concentrating on 2nd dose appointments, so there aren't any appointments floating around, except in maybe the Flint area. 
  • Sam's Club: seems to refresh daily, sometimes around midnight, sometimes random times. Last night was midnight. 
  • Walmart: always at midnight! And usually the J&J vaccine. 
  • Kroger: A tricky minx, and we never know when it will have appointments. A lot of times it will let you select a 1st dose appointment, then say there are no 2nd doses available, too; in that case, you have to start over and try to select a different city.
Sam's Club COVID-19 vaccine appointments
3. Make sure you can be flexible with your schedule. 

Obviously this is harder for us working folk, versus people who are maybe retired. The best chance at getting a COVID-19 appointment is if you can be flexible—maybe ask your boss if you can have the appointment time off, or try to go during lunchtime hours. In our angels group, sometimes we get ridiculous requests like "must be on a Monday at 8:30am," and that means you might be waiting a while for an appointment. 

4. Please, PLEASE be thankful if someone gets you an appointment.

I've been working this volunteer "gig" for about 1.5 months at this point, and some of the responses I get are quite interesting. My favorite one was "No, thank you" when I asked if a CVS appointment in the city of Detroit would work, after I had stayed up till 12am to book it for him. Other times I get a terse "Yes"—no "thank you" or anything—when I text to ask if an appointment date works. And the most indignant of all: sometimes we don't get responses, even after I have texted twice AND emailed. In that case I pick up the phone and will call you, but keep in mind I'm a millennial who hates phone calls ;). 

Just this morning, after I stayed up until past midnight last night getting Walmart appointments for people, someone messaged me and said that he's already booked and can't use it. That's fine. I responded asking them to call Walmart and cancel his appointment. His response: "YOU made the appointment for me. YOU cancel it." Really? Rude ... 

I will say for every "rude customer" there is someone who is super grateful for my help though— especially for those who are older, it's hard to navigate the sites, and some people might not have internet, too. Those make these worth doing. 

Also, related: please also take whatever vaccine we book for you. I promise you they are ALL 100% effective in preventing death from COVID-19. You wouldn't believe how many people on our list say they ONLY want Pfizer, and we get a fair amount of "no J&J" or "ONLY J&J" too. 

Exception: there are some people who do medically need J&J—I have a friend who is allergic to some of the ingredients in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Obviously this is an exception and we are happy to accommodate. But a lot of people are like "my friend told me only Pfizer is good." I actually have yet to come across someone ONLY asking me for Moderna—it's usually "only Pfizer," "only J&J," or "no J&J." 

Kroger COVID-19 vaccine appointments

5. Don't get overwhelmed with all of this info. 

The easiest way to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment would be to make sure you are signed up with your local county, and also with Meijer. That being said ... I didn't get a Meijer invite until about a week ago, and I STILL haven't gotten an invite from Oakland County (and now I am already vaccinated, because I was proactive about it). 

You can definitely start with some of the national websites, or maybe some of the smaller clinics; whatever is your preference. 

Below is a list of some bitly's (short links) I have made, that might be useful in your search:

And feel free to email me (yesnodetroit@gmail) if you need help finding an appointment! As of today, I've booked appointments in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, California, Louisiana, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

Have you had your COVID-19 vaccine yet? If so, where did you go, and how was your experience?

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