If eligible, how to get an appointment to get a vaccine shot

How to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine in New York City

There are multiple websites, disappearing slots and even attempts to game the system. Here’s our guide to what you have to do to get a dose in your arm.

Checking in for vaccinations at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
Checking in for vaccinations at the Javits Center in Manhattan.Credit…Brendan McDermid/Reuters

By Ron Lieber

  • Jan. 17, 2021

It isn’t easy, and it’s probably going to be that way for a while. Right now, there are more eligible people than doses of vaccine. You need diligence and luck.

People are swapping tips in text chains and social media groups to try to gain an edge, and there is a dizzying array of websites and phone numbers to keep track of.

At every turn there are more questions about how best to book a slot, what happens when you arrive for an appointment, and what might happen if you just show up without one. The answers seem to change from moment to moment.

Here’s what we know about the process to get vaccinated in New York City. We’ll update this with new information as it emerges.

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Jump to answers about…

Who can get the vaccine?

Currently, vaccines are supposed to go to medical personnel, nursing home residents, certain kinds of essential workers (including police, teachers and some grocery workers), and anyone age 65 and older.

You can find the most up-to-date information at eligibility pages run by New York City and New York State.

I already had Covid-19, can I still get a vaccine?


The city’s F.A.Q. page explains why it’s fine — and a good idea. It suggests waiting for 90 days after your last positive test, but the site does not say that staff will turn you away if you come sooner.

I’m under 65 and immunocompromised. Can I get vaccinated?

This group does not currently qualify in New York, and it is not clear when that might change. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that he hoped eligibility would be expanded to this group very soon, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted on Jan. 15 that doing so would mean millions more people trying to get access to a limited number of slots.

Do I need to disclose my immigration status?

No. That’s according to a city F.A.Q. page.

What will the vaccine cost me?

Nothing, according to the city page. It’s possible that you may encounter a form that does ask if you have insurance and then asks for that information for billing purposes, but there is not supposed to be any cost to you.

Do I have to be a New York City resident to get a vaccine in the city?

No. Two vaccination sites in the city, including at the Javits Center, are run by the state. Any New York resident can use them.

Sites run by the city are different. A nonresident — even one living out of state — who works an essential job in the city is eligible for vaccination at a city-run center.

But Mayor de Blasio said other nonresidents should stay away from city-run sites, and instead use those in their own communities. A city Health Department spokesman said that staff members at these sites had turned away people who had registered but did not meet eligibility requirements.

Can people who live in New York City book spots at state-run centers outside the city?

Yes. Any resident of the state can use any state-run center.

I’ve heard about people using fake addresses to get shots. What if people do this?

A spokesman for the governor’s office said that the state’s guidance is that anyone wishing to get the vaccine must complete an attestation that they live there or are an eligible essential worker who works there. Lying on that attestation is a misdemeanor that could lead to up to a year in jail.

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What else should I know before I get started?

Appointments go fast. There may not be any, anywhere, when you read this. Sometimes new ones open up unexpectedly and then vanish within seconds — the time it takes to double-check whether a time or day would work. All you can do is keep trying.

You will probably end up visiting several websites and creating new accounts for each one. Be ready to keep careful track of user names and passwords. Don’t lose them.

The vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan, which is run by New York State.
The vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan, which is run by New York State.Credit…Brendan McDermid/Reuters

There are a lot of different websites. Which one do I use?

Be prepared to try several, and to try them repeatedly.

Some of the vaccination centers in the city are run by the local government, but others are not. Then there are the state-run centers, and hospitals and other medical providers are also receiving doses they can administer.AT HOME: Our best suggestions for how to live a full and cultured life during the pandemic, at home.Sign Up

A good place to start is New York City’s Vaccine Finder site, which allows you to map all the places administering shots in the five boroughs. It’s not just city-run centers — the site shows other places offering the vaccine, like community health centers and urgent care providers.

Most will require you to register online to book an appointment. Some allow you to book by phone.

If you pick one of the city-run vaccination centers, the scheduling link will take you to the city’s vaccine hub. You will have to a create an account if you don’t have one already. From there, the hub links to other web pages where you can book an appointment.

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The vaccine finder site also links to New York City Health and Hospitals vaccination page, which asks you a series of eligibility questions before you can begin to try to book a spot at one of its centers.

For state-run providers — the Javits Center is one of two state-run sites in the city for now, but there are others in the suburbs, like the outdoor site at Jones Beach — you will begin by using its eligibility tool.

What other places are offering vaccines?

Some urgent-care centers, health clinics and certain pharmacies are offering vaccinations. They’re also listed on the Vaccine Finder site. These also have their own scheduling systems — the more places you try, the more accounts you’ll be creating.

Other urgent care centers aren’t offering vaccines yet, but that could change. CityMD, for example, is only vaccinating its own employees and a limited number of other health-care workers who have received referrals to come there.

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