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Frustrated with trying to find a shot? Alabama ‘vaccine hunters’ can help

Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 1:27 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -It’s been frustrating for many Alabamians trying to find and sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine. If you aren’t computer savvy, then it can be even worse.

That’s where Tabitha Olzinski comes in. She’s got a doctorate in social work, but lately she’s been helping people find COVID-19 vaccines.

“It started with me first trying to find a vaccine for my parents who are both in their early 70s and was frustrated that it was hard to find something,” Olzinski said.

Olzinski and her aunt then came across the “vaccinehunter.org” website and decided about a month ago to create their own Facebook group called “South Alabama Vaccine Hunters.” It’s a page loaded with the latest vaccine news and information on where people can sign up. Olzinki even goes to appointments with people she helps find a shot.

“Some people don’t have anyone to go with them and like I said they are nervous, am I going to have a reaction right away? Where do I go? Again, once they get passed the technology, its overwhelming even going for the appointment,” Olzinski said.

Olzinki feels like her effort is saving lives.

“Unfortunately, I have had probably about a dozen people I know who have passed away from it or been relatives of people who passed away and to me that’s heartbreaking. I mean that’s never going to go away. To me everyone vaccine that someone gets is saving a life,” Olzinski said.

Healthcare workers and vaccine providers are also joining the conversation in Olzinski’s Facebook group.

We found a similar vaccine hunting group on Facebook called “COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in Alabama” that like Olzinski group are helping people locate available appointments.

Another resource is “COVID Shot Finder.”

“I teamed up with a few frontline doctors to help create a resource. It’s free and it helps you find a shot.”

Dayne Katz is the website’s co-creator. He previously worked at Walgreens in business operations.

The website helps you pinpoint vaccine availability nationwide at pharmacies, supermarkets, health care systems, urgent care and more. You can also sign up to be alerted when more appointments become available.

“This is really a community service project because we all want to get back to normal as soon as possible and unfortunately there’s an information gap with some of this stuff. If you are motivated and want to get a shot, using resources like mine and others, you can probably find a shot within a week. I think there’s a pretty good chance,” Katz said.

If you have already registered somewhere online for a vaccine and haven’t heard anything back yet, Olzinski suggests trying pharmacies or Walmart.

“To me it seems if you can make a direct appointment with CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. Those seem to be the most successful but again its all technology based,” Olzinski said.

Olzinski has heard from numerous people who have gone to Walmart or CVS around 5pm and waited for leftover vaccine. She says pharmacists will make announcements telling folks they have a few leftover. So, if you are adamant about getting a shot, you may want to try that.

To see a list of doctor’s offices and pharmacies providing vaccines in each county, click here.

For ADPH drive thru and walk in clinics, click here.

For a comprehensive map of all vaccination locations, including health department and pharmacy programs, click here.

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