PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Vaccine 'finder' Max Rotondo didn't go to bed until nearly 3am. That's because he was up all night helping strangers find COVID-19 vaccine appointments, just like he does almost every night.
"Some days I have to tell you, I have not been able to schedule any appointment. Other days, I'm able to schedule 20, 30, even 40 appointments. This past week so far I've been able to schedule 65 appointments," said Rotondo, who is one of the designated 'finders' of the PA COVID Vaccine Matchmaker facebook page.
The page not only teaches people how to get a vaccine on their own, but it will also help people find the vaccine and schedule the appointment for them.
So what are Rotondo's best tricks and tips for landing an appointment?
He's sharing them with with FOX43.
HOW TO WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
Rotondo said first and foremost to be patient and determined when entering scheduling websites. He said CVS and Rite Aid are two of the biggest sites where he has been able to book.
- Rotondo said in his experience, CVS seems to drop appointments between 4 and 6 am. But, he said just recently he started finding appointments after midnight on the site.
- Rotondo said in his experience, Rite Aid seems to drop appointments between 11:40 pm and midnight.
"Rite Aid you can go on and just schedule an appointment," Rotondo said. "CVS sometimes there's a waiting room."
To avoid being stuck in a waiting room on the CVS website, Rotondo suggests vaccine seekers log on early. Rotondo added there is also another work around if people are unable to find any vaccine available in Pennsylvania.
"I have run into a road block sometimes with Pennsylvania where it says no appointments are available. So, to avoid that you can go into another state (sometimes I choose Alabama) to schedule an appointment. And, sometimes you just choose your state later (in the process)... just to bypass the initial page," said Rotondo.
CHECK WEBSITES THAT WILL HELP YOU TRACK WHEN APPOINTMENTS DROP
"A site that has helped me a lot is called 'find a shot.' It was developed by a University of Pennsylvania Student. It's really user friendly. It's easy to navigate and it's simple," said Rotondo.
Rotondo added users simply need to input their zip codes or state and the site filters all locations in that area by appointment. Rotondo said it will also give seekers a direct link to pharmacies in order to make an appointment.
"That's what I use every night and it has helped me tremendously," said Rotondo.
Other finders have suggested using the website 'Vaxx Max' to locate available appointments quickly.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN'T SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT ON YOUR OWN
Rotondo highly encourages people to sign up for the PA COVID Vaccine Matchmaker facebook page.
Rotondo is just one of nearly 400 'finders' on the page who will find a vaccine for people who sign up for their services. They are also teaching people how to find a vaccine on their own.
The below story explains how to use the Matchmaker group and provides the forms in which you need to fill out if you want someone to schedule a vaccination appointment for you:
Multiple people have reported to FOX43 the matchmaker 'finders' have been able to schedule them appointments within days. However, finders note thousands have already signed up for its services so the time in which the page can find vaccinations for people varies on supply and available appointments.
FOX43 also reported on another site which is assisting people who need help making an appointment as well as state services that also provide assistance. Learn about that assistance in these links
Rotondo, like other finders, does the work for free on a volunteer basis.
"About a year and a half ago my mom passed away," said Rotondo who said his mom was his inspiration to volunteer as a finder. "Surrounding me in my dining room are all pictures of my mom. So, I feel that although I could not save her life I am saving other people's lives by scheduling the appointment to get this life-saving vaccine. And, she really inspires me, motivates me to do it. And, it's really rewarding."
Rotondo added that vaccination distribution is expected to increase over the next few weeks and he hopes at that time more appointments will become available.
You can directly contact Max Rotondo with questions about scheduling or to ask for help to schedule at firstname.lastname@example.org