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How to get a COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering

As vaccination sites expand, states need volunteers to help with the logistics of vaccinating the masses.

How to get a COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering
[Photo: Flickr user Phil Roeder]
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Psssst. Are you eagerly seeking a COVID-19 vaccine but are not yet eligible in your state? There’s one possible path to getting that priceless stab in your arm that you can feel good about: Volunteering at a vaccination site, which could make you a frontline worker and therefore immediately eligible.

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Nationwide, counties are swiftly opening and expanding vaccination sites, which need hundreds of thousands of volunteers to vaccinate most of the U.S. population. For example, 40,000 volunteer slots were available in Dallas yesterday. The Oregon Convention Center in Portland aims to vaccinate up to 25,000 people per day, depending on vaccine availability—and, as you can imagine, herding 25,000 people through a maze-like building to receive a minor medical procedure requires thousands of volunteers.

Though details vary widely from state to state and site to site, most volunteer shifts are around 3 hours to 5.5 hours long, and first-time volunteers are often vaccinated during their first shift. Note, however, that volunteers may only be vaccinated if there is enough supply in many cases.

Typical volunteer roles include:

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  • Greeter: verbally confirming that people are eligible for the state’s current phase.
  • Director: guiding people toward the proper lines
  • Scheduler: confirming that people have appointments, and helping them schedule second doses
  • Safety monitor: watching people for 15-30min after receiving their shots, to make sure none have adverse reactions
  • Parking aid: helping guide traffic and parking

To find volunteer opportunities, google “COVID vaccine volunteer [your state] ” and apply. Expect the on-boarding process to take 1-2 weeks (background and medical screens are typically required). Don’t be discouraged if local volunteer opportunities are currently closed; many sites will expand their capacity exponentially in the coming weeks as vaccine stocks become available. After all, thousands and thousands of your nearby neighbors need to get vaccinated, and you might as well be the vaccinated volunteer who helps make it happen.