‘Vaccine Queens’ offer advice on how to get vaccination appointments as eligibility expands

Coronavirus

CHAGRIN FALLS, OHIO (WJW) — Two moms who joined forces to become the “Vaccine Queens” continue to help others book vaccine appointments as eligibility expands and now, they are sharing advice on some of the best practices used to get a shot.

“To date, we’ve booked over 1,400 appointments closing in on 1,500,” said Marla Zwinggi of Chagrin Falls.

FOX 8 highlighted the secret to their success in February when they just surpassed helping 500 people.

Zwinggi along with Stacey Bene of Medina often spend more than 10 hours a day scouring the internet and making calls on behalf of people struggling to find an appointment. 

“CVS often opens appointments around the 7 o’clock in the morning hour,” said Zwinggi. “Rite Aid usually opens appointments around midnight. Those are the best times to access those pharmacy sites.”

Bene said, “We have the most success working with the Giant Eagle website. Once you get to the calendar screen and it gives you a couple of stores that might’ve had some open appointments at some point in time, don’t leave that page stay on that page and refresh, refresh, refresh.”

People ages 16 and above become eligible for the vaccine on March 29. FOX 8 asked officials at the Ohio Department of Health if people in that category can begin scheduling appointments now for later this month. 

A spokesperson said they expect Ohioans to answer questions accurately when trying to book an appointment online for the Wolstein Center or anywhere else. The state’s vaccination website will add booking eligibility for Phase 1E on Friday, March 19, and Phase 2D eligibility on Monday, March 29.

As eligibility expands there is concern the digital divide will grow for those who have not received an appointment due to lack of resources including a computer, phone, internet or understanding of how to book online.

“The state centralized website, it does have access to appointments at the FEMA site at CSU, however, if you’re looking to get vaccinated at a local pharmacy like a giant eagle or a drug mart it more just directs you to those landing pages and takes you through extra steps that are unnecessary,” said Zwinggi.

Bene said they have partnered with Discount Drug Mart to help those who require special accommodations including not being able to leave their home in order to get vaccinated. The duo responsible for helping so many encourages patience when seeking an appointment.

“Take a deep breath and keep trying and if you cannot get in and you need help we are here for you,” said Zwinggi.

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