How early should you get to your COVID vaccine appointment? And are there toilets?

New COVID-19 vaccination sites keep opening in Broward County for seniors 65 and older, and just like with testing, there are rules to know before you can get your first dose. Some of the rules are standard and will probably be the same wherever you go, like how all vaccinations […]

New COVID-19 vaccination sites keep opening in Broward County for seniors 65 and older, and just like with testing, there are rules to know before you can get your first dose.

Some of the rules are standard and will probably be the same wherever you go, like how all vaccinations are by appointment-only and no long-sleeve shirts. Short sleeves or tank tops are the way to go because the shot will go into your arm.

No one should charge you for the vaccine. Taxpayers are paying the bill. While some places might charge a fee for giving the shot to someone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the fee can be reimbursed using the patient’s public or private insurance. For uninsured patients, the fee can be reimbursed by using the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

Other rules may vary from hospital to hospital and from site to site.

If you booked your vaccination appointment (or are still trying to) through the Florida Department of Health in Broward County’s online website, here’s a guide to make your life easier.

How do I know I actually booked a slot? Do I really need an appointment?

You should receive a confirmation email within 48 hours of booking your vaccination appointment, according to Broward’s health department. Email should include the date, time and location of your first shot. There is also a link to a consent form you need to print and fill out. If the email is not in your inbox, check your junk and spam mailboxes.

And yes, you do need an appointment. If you show up without one, you’ll leave without a vaccine. Slots are going as fast as churros on a cold night, so it might be a while before you can get one at browardcovidvaccine.com

The two vaccines available in Florida require two doses, several weeks apart. Your appointment for the second shot will be given when you receive your first injection, along with a vaccination card, the health department said.

I live near the vaccination site. Can I just walk there?

On Sunday, January 3, 2021 motorists line-up for COVID-19 vaccination shots for people who are 65 and older as site staffers assist at Vista View Park in Davie, Florida.
On Sunday, January 3, 2021 motorists line-up for COVID-19 vaccination shots for people who are 65 and older as site staffers assist at Vista View Park in Davie, Florida.

Depends. Most of the vaccination sites are drive-thru, including Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, Vista View Park in Davie, and Markham Park in Sunrise, which means you need to drive there or have someone drive you there. So far, there is only one walk-in site managed by the health department — Coral Square Mall in Coral Springs.

Let’s be clear: “Walk-in” means you will be standing in line for the vaccine instead of sitting in your car. Appointments are still required.

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Will there be a line at my Broward vaccination site? How early should I get there? Do I need to bring anything?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is prepped by Walgreens pharmacists before being distributed to residents and staff at The Palace Renaissance & Royale, an assisted living facility in Kendall, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is prepped by Walgreens pharmacists before being distributed to residents and staff at The Palace Renaissance & Royale, an assisted living facility in Kendall, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

Before you freak out, no one needs to camp out at vaccine sites like seniors in Lee County did. You should still expect long lines, however.

Broward’s health department told the Miami Herald that seniors should arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment. To be safe, treat it like a doctor’s appointment and get there earlier.

Also, remember to bring a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or identification card, that has your name and age. You also need to bring your consent form. The link to the form is in the vaccine confirmation email.

The form tells you which vaccine you will receive, Pfizer or Moderna, and includes screening questions to make sure you’re eligible for the vaccine. It also asks for insurance information.

If you are unable to print out the form, that’s OK. Forms will also be available on site. And remember, you can still get the vaccine even if you’re uninsured.

We asked how hard it is to get a vaccine in South Florida. You answered. And answered.

Are there restrooms? What about snacks and water?

On Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, motorists line up for COVID-19 vaccination shots for people who are 65 and older as site staffers assist them at Vista View Park in Davie, Florida.
On Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, motorists line up for COVID-19 vaccination shots for people who are 65 and older as site staffers assist them at Vista View Park in Davie, Florida.

Besides the heat, there’s another problem with long lines: the need to pee.

A Broward health department spokesman said there are restrooms available at the drive-thru and walk-in sites across Broward County.

You’ll likely be stuck in a long line, so who knows how close you’ll be to the bathrooms. Our suggestion: Use the toilet before you go.

In terms of snacks and water, don’t expect food trucks and snack bars. You’ll need to bring your own provisions. Given the expected long waits, it might not be a bad idea to have something to munch on while you wait. Unless it’s something you know will send you to the toilet.

I booked another vaccine appointment elsewhere. How can I cancel this one?

So you were one of the lucky ones that somehow booked more than one vaccination appointment and now you need to get rid of your extra ones? Wow.

To cancel, for any reason, including if you fell ill with COVID-19 at the last minute, had a family emergency or got your vaccine elsewhere, you don’t need to do anything. Nada. Zip.

A health department spokesman said you don’t have to call or email anyone because officials “made allowances” for cancellations in the appointment scheduler.

No specifics were provided, but like in Miami-Dade County, it likely involves giving the unused vaccines to someone else once appointments open up again. No word yet on whether you can postpone your appointment or give it to someone else.

And if you were able to book more than one vaccination appointment despite the busy phone lines and crashing websites, try your luck playing Mega Millions, Powerball and the Lotto.

Where can seniors get the COVID-19 vaccine in South Florida? Here’s the growing list

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