Vaccine Eligibility and Appointments for South Seattleites

(Updated 4/7/21)

South End community — here you will find helpful info for those who either want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or who are trying to help family, friends, or other community members navigate this process.

On March 31, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) removed the proof of eligibility requirement for those seeking a COVID vaccine. The DOH Vaccine Phase Finder tool went away and DOH website visitors are now directed to vaccine allocation guidance to determine their eligibility to receive the vaccine at this time and to the Vaccine Locator Tool to find providers offering the vaccine in their area. The phased vaccine roll-out plan is still in effect, but the DOH says it trusts people schedule their vaccines as they become eligible to receive them.

Also on March 31, the state advanced in the phased vaccine roll-out plan to Phase 1B – All Tiers. See the visual vaccine roll-out timeline, also available in Spanish, to determine your eligibility. On April 15, all Washingtonians 16 and older will become eligible for the vaccine.

Finding a Location (and Getting an Appointment)

“We encourage you to pursue multiple strategies for securing a vaccination appointment.” —The City of Seattle

First things first: Check with your provider. If you are eligible to get the vaccine and have a primary care doctor and/or medical facility that you visit for your check-ups and any other health care, contact the facility and find out if they are administering the vaccine.

Those eligible to receive the vaccine at this time can use the DOH Vaccine Locator tool to assist them in finding a provider nearby to schedule an appointment with. Please note that available appointments fill up fast, but new appointments are added all the time. Patience and diligence pay off for those seeking a vaccine. For those who will become eligible on April 15, it can be even more challenging to schedule an appointment as many providers are not scheduling that far out and are only allowing those eligible for the vaccine now to schedule appointments.

South Seattle community members may wish to check out some of the following options:

On April 7, the City of Seattle updated their online vaccine notification list to remove some eligibility requirements to get on the list — most notably, anyone over 16 who lives in King County can now register to get on the list to make an appointment to get a vaccine when an appointment is available at one of the City-run sites (including the Rainier Beach and West Seattle Community Vaccination Hubs and the Lumen Field Event Center). You can also call 206-684-2489, Mon.–Sat., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for assistance (interpretation available). Even if you will not be eligible to get a vaccine until April 15, this public resource is available to you. Presumably, you will not get an appointment before you become eligible, but the online form does not explicitly say that.

International Community Health Services (ICHS) continues to vaccinate South End community members at two vaccination sites — one in the Chinatown-International District and one at New Holly Gathering Hall (scroll down on this page for valuable info on navigating appointment scheduling with ICHS and other providers online!). Note that they are vaccinating eligible adults (18 and over) at this time, though appointments for April 15 and beyond have appeared on their scheduler and have been quickly snatched up. So keep checking back if you wish to schedule an appointment for before or after April 15.

SeaMar also offers vaccines at their South Park location. Go to their website to find a list of same-day vaccine availability at their locations (they do walk-ins, so plan to arrive early and wait in line if you plan to go on April 15 or beyond). You can also call UW Medicine (844-520-8700) to get on their waitlist, though they seem to require you to be eligible now in order to get on the list.

WA COVID Vaccine Finder is a volunteer-run resource that helps connect people to vaccines in their area. You can enter your ZIP code to get a list of providers nearby and filter results by certain relevant details (like whether or not there’s a waitlist).

A private Facebook Group (you can request to join; you must agree to the group rules) called Find a COVID Shot WA is helping people in Washington find vaccines and make appointments.

Another online vaccine locator tool is Vaccine Finder. We don’t love this tool, but you may find it useful. Just know that the information is often incomplete. For instance, they listed ICHS as having appointments, but we know you have to go through the online scheduler if you’re not a patient and there were no appointments available when we checked. They also listed Safeway/Albertsons as having appointments, but when we followed the link to their site, there were none available. That doesn’t mean there won’t be if we check back later though!

You Don’t Need This Anymore:

As of March 31, 2021, people are no longer required to provide proof of vaccine eligibility to get a vaccine (above image is an example of the previously required proof of eligibility).

Using the Solv Appointment Scheduler, and Frankly, All of Them

Many providers are using some form of online scheduler as a primary means for patients to schedule vaccine appointments. These online schedulers are often not very user friendly and can be confusing and frustrating to use because the desired outcome for users is to get an appointment scheduled — and that’s often not possible.

Here are a few things to note: Many online schedulers will tell you there are no appointments available. You may visit the same provider’s website multiple times and get nowhere. But new appointments with most providers do show up on these pages and those who are most likely to book those time slots are the ones diligently checking the provider’s page, refreshing the page a few times a day, etc., as new appointments are released and snatched up at seemingly random intervals based on the capacity of the provider.

Vaccine supply and capacity for providers to get them to patients changes constantly. So your best bet is to keep checking back, check with multiple providers (cast a wide net), and did we mention keep checking back?

ICHS uses the “Solv” online scheduler, which is similar to other online vaccine scheduling tools in that it can be baffling to the user when it comes to how to actually get/make an appointment using the tool. We’ll use ICHS’s New Holly vaccination site scheduler as an example:

  1. You will see some information about the vaccination site on the left-hand side, including the address. In this space, the scheduler also often says “Closed” — which, according to ICHS officials, is a quirk of the system and not indicative of the vaccination site’s hours of operation or even appointment availability. See below for images.
  2. On the right-hand side, under where it says “CHOOSE A DATE AND TIME,” you will see today’s date and it might say “Clinic Closed” and “This clinic is closed today.” Below that you might see tomorrow’s date and it might say the same thing (see the image “Example A” below). This does not actually mean that the clinic is closed today or tomorrow.

    When you see this, it means that at this exact moment, there are no appointments available for today or tomorrow. If this is the case, under that there will be a big pink button that says “Find Next Available Visit,” and when you click that, a calendar pops up. But all the days on the calendar might be greyed out. You will have to visit the scheduler again later to see if new appointments have been added (be sure you’re looking at “MORE DATES” in the pop-up and not simply today or tomorrow’s availability).

    But hold up — you might see available appointments when you visit the page, as new appointments are added regularly. And even if you don’t see them now, you may see them if you refresh the page in 10 minutes, or in an hour, or tomorrow morning. ICHS says if you visit the page and see no available appointments, check back often. Early in the week is best.

    New appointments will become available and when they do, you will be able to book them using the scheduler.

    When appointments are available, you will see buttons overlaid with appointment times, e.g. “3:15”, (see “Example B” below) under the date or dates on the right-hand side. Keep checking back and/or refreshing the page until you see some appointment times available and when you do, click the time of your choice per what is available to schedule your appointment.
Example “A” of ICHS Solv online appointment scheduler for their New Holly site. In this screenshot there are no appointments available.
Example “B” of ICHS Solv online appointment scheduler for their New Holly site. In this screenshot there are appointments available.

NOTE: One thing appears to be true wherever you try to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine online, no matter what scheduling system the provider uses: many times no appointments will be immediately available, but new appointments appear like magic. Do not lose hope!

Keep checking back on the site in question at any vaccine provider locations you are interested in scheduling an appointment with. Appointments are added all the time and often are immediately snatched up. But if you are patient and diligent, local providers say, you will get an appointment sooner or later, and this diligence has paid off for many community members. So don’t give up!

Here are South Seattle ICHS vaccination sites to check for appointments:

Featured image courtesy of ICHS.

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