Despite the progress, though, getting appointments for vaccinations has been a source of great frustration for many people. Appointment slots are filled within minutes of becoming available. States, local health departments and pharmacy chains have their own sign-up websites that in many cases do not share data with one another. The C.D.C. has its own vaccine administration management system, or VAMS, which some states are using to have people register for vaccinations and to collect essential data, but state officials have complained that it is clunky.
Exasperated people have taken matters into their own hands, creating online navigator tools and “vaccine hunter” Facebook groups in cities like Los Angeles and New Orleans to help connect people with available doses.
When the VaccineFinder portal goes live this week, it will include some drugstores and grocery stores nationwide, plus many other locations, like mass-vaccination sites, in Alaska, Indiana, Iowa and Tennessee.
Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said the agency was encouraging vaccination locations to “provide accurate and up-to-date information on location, hours and availability of vaccines, so Americans can find vaccine sites easier.”
Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said, “I think people are optimistic and eagerly awaiting it.” He continued, “As with anything that we roll out in the middle of this pandemic, if there are glitches it could end up creating a lot of confusion, but I think we’ll just have to work through it.”
Finding doses was relatively straightforward in the first weeks of the vaccine rollout, when eligible people — health care workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities — were getting vaccinated mainly where they lived or worked.
But states have since expanded their eligibility criteria to include older people, people with certain medical conditions and certain frontline workers. More locations have also been added to give out vaccines, including stadiums and local pharmacies.