Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Walgreens’ Screwy Vaccine Signup Process

In many states, signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine shot has been nothing short of a nightmare. The systems set up by some states like Massachusetts have been rightly criticized for creating a frustrating frenzy when new appointments are loaded into the system. It is like vying with thousands of others to get that hot concert ticket the minute Ticketmaster goes online with them.

Not to be outdone, Walgreens here has set up a vaccination appointment system that defies explanation. When you first log in with your account information and pass the screening questions, you may be lucky enough to get to the vaccinations available page after you enter your zip code.

Dose 1

So you pick a date for your first dose. Then, unlike any other non-pharmacy system we have seen, Walgreens wants you to pick a date for your second shot. And for days, at least in the Boston area, this is the next screen you saw.

*Mouse Print:

dose 2

What? They canceled your first-dose appointment because they cannot schedule a time for the second one? Because future deliveries of vaccines are so unpredictable, elsewhere it has become common practice to not schedule the second dose until the day you show up for the first dose.

We asked Walgreens if perhaps this was a glitch in their system not even letting people get the first dose on the date they reserved, and whether they are considering changing the system to fill requests for first dose only patients. A company spokesperson replied in part:

As of now, the vaccine scheduler is stable and working as intended… Eligible individuals can make appointments for both first and second doses at the same time…

We wrote back to Walgreens questioning the logic of their system.

The corporate spokesperson responded a couple of days later:

Earlier this week there were several first-dose appointments available in the scheduling system across Massachusetts locations, however, second dose appointments were not available. We resolved the issue by adding second dose appointments for future dates in order for eligible individuals to proceed in making appointments in the most effective manner. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you, Walgreens.

Now it’s your turn. Feel free this week to use the comment section to tell everyone about your experience in making a vaccine appointment, good or bad, at Walgreens or at any other site.

Share this story:
All comments are reviewed before being published, and may be edited. Comments that are off-topic, contain personal attacks, or are otherwise inappropriate will be deleted.

15 thoughts on “Walgreens’ Screwy Vaccine Signup Process”

  1. Walgreens is our hero. After spending 15 hours online over 3 weeks trying to schedule a vaccine anywhere, Walgreens started offering them in my area. I was very happy to be able to schedule mine and then reinitiate the process to schedule my wife’s. The short delay in setting these up meant hers was 2 hours later than mine. However, when we arrived they gave me mine at the appointed time and then gave my wife hers as they weren’t “going to make her wait”.
    Thanks Walgreens!
    We go back in two weeks, oddly to a different Walgreens, for shot #2.

  2. In PA, I was among the first to schedule a shot through my medical provider. It was all done online. A second shot was scheduled by the nurse right before she gave me the first one. Overall a smooth experience. Once they started running out of supply, however, things broke down for other people. Appointments were rescheduled, etc.

  3. As a nursing home volunteer I was eligible phase I. Nursing homes had three clinics. Clinic One and two could give first and second shots. Clinic three was to be only second shots. My supervisor cleared me with the facility guaranteeing a second shot, not sure of these logistics. After vaccine we questioned when the second shot date was and learned “I’m on my own”. That was followed by 10 days of banging my head on a wall with about 4 hours of phone calls, completing at least 4 online applications and then personal visits to CVS locations to be put on a list for any unused vaccine. Miraculously
    one night at 8 pm I decided to search the internet again and was fortunate to find a Fenway appointment for the second Pfizer vaccine. I would not wish this insanity on anyone. Shame on Gov Baker for making such a mess.

  4. In New York City Walgreen’s/Duane Reade shows dozens of “available” (highlighted in green) vaccine sites/stores (on the NYC Covid 19 vaccine finder site). However trying an appointment seems nigh impossible. FIRST you be or sign up to a Walgreen’s customer on their website. Then the Walgreens system seems either to crash or freeze or go backwards. I never got close to getting an appointment. I tried a smartphone. I tried using a tablet. I tried different internet connects, as the system was so glitzy, but no nothing worked. I also tried opting out of the Walgreen’s site, and seemingly could not. So bottom light no appointment(s), but I’m a Walgreen’s customer when I don’t want to be. I want the vaccine.

  5. I made appointments today for my wife at Walgreens. It took four tries since the issue was other folks also making appointments. You would get “time not available.” But on the last try, it worked.

    I had signed up a few weeks earlier when my group became available. It, again, took some time – a few days. I had also used CVS, Stop & Shop, and Hannafords with no success. From talking with others the three I just mentioned apparently will not look for scheduling both doses.

    The state site run by “PrepMod” is a well-documented disaster. A complete failure that will only be exasperated when it opens up for all. I would trust it to the private sector before the public one.

  6. “Walgreen’s vaccine sign up” been there, done that and I agree a bit of a mess. One of the biggest oversight is the lack of a way to cancel an appointment you’ve already made in order to free up the vaccine for someone else. After many weeks of trying to find a vaccine, I was able to sign up at Walgreens. But on that morning I was not feeling well and decided I better not take the shot. Unfortunately, there is nowhere on Walgreen’s website to cancel your appointment. Although in one email that they sent me to confirm the appointment it had a edit/ cancel your appointment link that did absolutely nothing but take you back to scheduling your appointment. No wonder they are stuck at the end of the day with unused and unappointed vaccine.

  7. I’m having the same experience. Lots of opportunity for first doses but then I get that screen that says I can’t have dose 1 because they can’t book dose 2. Las Vegas Nevada.

  8. Same sign-up problem at Walgreens in Wisconsin. The websites states several slots are available but won’t allow any scheduling because no 2nd dose time slots are available.

  9. In my county of NJ, scheduling has been a nightmare and an ethical quandry. We do have a state system set up (and I, a senior, am scheduled to get my first shot tomorrow at one of the state “megasites”). BUT the state site was set up in such a way that it was possible to jump the line and lots of younger healthy people have done that. Thus you have healthy 30-somethings getting vaccinated while people in their 90s wait.
    Before I got my appointment I spent a lot of time on Shoprite, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Acme websites without success, similar to what you describe.
    We also have a state phone number that people without internet can call, but it broke down and as I understand has not yet been fixed. Mess!

  10. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with what Walgreen’s is doing. It made sense to me to wait and schedule my shots when I could be sure of getting both doses. It’s better than going to that first appointment and then being turned away because they can’t schedule the follow up.

    A word of advice for anyone who is considering getting any kind of shot or vaccine, such as the shingles vaccine Shingrix. You cannot get another vaccine two weeks before or after the covid vaccine. So if your doctor recommends you get any kind of shot make sure it’s not going to interfere with getting your covid vaccination. I should be eligible to get the covid shot now, but it will have to wait until two weeks after I get the 2nd Shingrix shot later this month.

  11. This is part of why I’m so glad that the J&J vaccine was approved for emergency use. I’m grateful that we have any vaccine, but a one dose vaccine is a far superior option in terms of delivery and availability.

  12. Hubby was able to schedule his appointment relatively easily through Walgreens’ web site. He’s getting the second shot on 3/8 at a different location than the first. I have to wait a bit, since I’m not yet eligible.

  13. CVS is no better. First of all, you have to put in your location THREE times. THREE times I had to tell it Massachusetts. Every time you refreshed the page it alternately told you there were appointments and then there weren’t. Sometimes you’d get to the next screen and it would ask you to choose a day of the ones they claim to have availability, and find there’s no slots. It was a total crap shoot. Took 3 days of trying. Now, are they getting vaccines delivered 24/7? all hours? no, of course not, so why did the availability fluctuate like that? ridiculous

  14. I am also in Massachusetts, and the vaccine sign-up process is indeed a sad, sad joke. To obtain appointments, I needed to monitor at least a dozen different websites, and had to enter my data over, and over, and over again on multiple sites. Some sites allowed you to continue entering data even when appointments were no longer available. Getting an appointment was a test of endurance, computer skills, computer speed, screen size, typing speed, and, of course, luck.

    Considering that our state has some excellent universities, world-renowned hospitals, a governor who used to run a health insurance company, and at least 6 months to prepare, it is a total embarrassment to see how poorly the vaccine roll-out went. To put an exclamation point on it, in short order, a few bright volunteers have pulled together friendlier sign-up systems than the Commonwealth provided.

    Charlie Baker, our governor, was completely tone-deaf on the matter. He seemed to think that since vaccine supply was limited, of course getting an appointment would be difficult, so he did not seem to understand the complaints. What he failed to grasp was the ridiculous time and effort people were needing to put into searching for a vaccine.

    For example, it would have been conceivable to have a system whereby you enter your info (name/age/location/insurance info/health status etc.) and are placed in a queue and contacted once a nearby vaccine appointment is available. That would take 10 minutes up-front, and you’d be free to get on with other things in the interim. But instead, we had random appointments popping up all over the state, and no queue, so you had to constantly search or there was no way you’d get an appointment.

    So Baker was right that many people would not get vaccines, but there is a vast difference between spending 10 minutes and failing to get a vaccine, and spending 10 hours and failing.

  15. Had the same issues with Walgreens – unable to schedule 1st dose because there was no 2nd dose availability. HOWEVER, somehow the system came back and scheduled my 1st dose! My pharmacy did NOT schedule my 2nd dose and told me to check online. I am now unable to get my the 2nd dose scheduled! Have tried to get answers from Walgreens, but responses are no better than what I can find online!

Comments are closed.