COLUMBUS (WCMH) — For some, securing a COVID-19 vaccine appointment is proving to be a challenge.

The experience might differ from provider to provider.

Are there any tips or is there a best way to go about getting an appointment?

With eligibility expanding and more people trying to get appointments, Columbus Public Health Director Dr. Mysheika Roberts suggests having a plan when it comes time to sign up. 

“I thought it would be easier and it wasn’t,” said Columbus resident Lisa Schecter. “I was really frustrated,”

Depending on who you talk to, experiences registering for the COVID-19 vaccine are likely going to be different.

“I’m not going to say it was frustrating, it’s just difficult because you don’t know what to expect and all of these different organizations have a different way of going about it,” said resident John Schecter.

“Every single friend of ours who wanted to sign up was able to sign up and I’m not aware of anybody who was not able to sign up,” said resident Emily White.

Aside from hitting refresh a few times, Emily White’s sign-up process was a walk in the park. It didn’t go as smoothly for her husband, Sam.

“At least a couple hours before I gave up to go to Columbus Public Health, but once we did that, it was very fast,” Sam White said.

Eligibility opens Friday for people 40 and older, and to all Ohioans 16 and older March 29. While Roberts supports the expanded eligibility, she also knows it’ll mean more people trying to sign up. 

“It’s going to increase the demand on our internet system, on our website, our phone lines,” Roberts said. “Not only our phone lines and our website, but all the other vaccine providers’ websites and phone lines, but I also think we can’t sit on vaccine that’s not being utilized.”

As far as the best way to get an appointment, Roberts said there is no one way to do so.

“I wish I could say there was, but at this point in time, I don’t think there is a playbook that works for everybody,” she said.

While there isn’t a playbook, Roberts said you should have a plan. She suggests figuring out a few places you’d prefer to get the vaccine and finding out when they release appointments. She says a good first option should be your healthcare provider, especially if they’re connected to one of the local hospitals.  

“For the most part, our pharmacies, our grocery stores and our FQHCs (Federally Qualified Health Centers) are getting somewhere south of 500 doses a week, whereas health departments and hospitals are getting over 3,000 doses a week, so if you want to pick and choose who you’re going to try to prioritize to make your appointment, it might be better to think about the providers who have the larger volume of vaccine to give,” she said.

Right now, registration is closed on the Columbus Public Health website. Roberts said another 7,000 appointments will open Friday. She added that she knows their system will be busy right when those open up, so she also suggests trying a few hours later when not as many people are online or on the phone.