How I got the shot

Sunday, February 21, 2021
My recent post about landing my first COVID-19 shot drew the inevitable surge of questions from people asking, “How’d you do it?”

Acknowledging that ever-evolving protocol may have changed by the time you read this—but in the interest of helping others and spotlighting the challenges faced by those who don’t have or aren’t used to computers—here’s the step-by-step I used:

A friend familiar with Rush University Medical Center’s vaccine logistics advised me that Rush sometimes gets (or through cancellations winds up with) extra doses—and that those typically become available at or after 4 or 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays for those ready and willing to snag a last-minute same-day appointment.

My friend explained that the vaccines can go 
not just to Rush patients but also to anyone who’s currently eligible under state or city guidelines* and who’s signed up via Rush’s free online portal, “My Rush powered by MyChart.”

If you’re a Rush patient, you’re probably already in the system. I hadn’t been to Rush for more than a decade, so I signed up as a Guy Nobody Sent:

You simply enter some basic information—including the last four digits of your Social Security number—to get an activation code that puts you in the system within seconds.

Then, it’s just a matter of checking the Rush signup page relentlessly.

But getting to that page isn’t intuitive:

Once you’ve logged in, the trick is to click on the Menu icon in the upper lefthand corner and then the “Schedule an Appointment” dropdown option.

Then, click “COVID Vaccine for Eligible Patients.”

Next, a few quick questions about your eligibility, a pledge to cancel your appointment should your situation change, affirmation you’ve read the fine print, acknowledgment of any allergies you may have … and then you’re on a quest no doubt familiar to anyone who’s been in the hunt for tickets to a big concert. (Remember concerts?)

That includes having to answer those same questions over and over again.

If fate smiles on you, a bunch of same-day appointments will show up right off the bat. In my case, at 4 p.m. Feb. 18, I saw a batch of openings for March 10. But by the time I entered my insurance information—not required, but if you’re going to enter it, do so in advance!—they were all gone.

I tried again around 4:28, and a few dozen appointments appeared for that very evening. Unthinkingly, I grabbed 5:20, before realizing Gee, that’s less than an hour from now!

I bolted out the door—all the while cursing myself, Would it have killed you to wait until 7?—and made it in time.

Note: Rush schedules a second shot at the time you get the first.

To recap: The main obstacles, aside from being lucky—and lucky enough to have a computer and an internet connection—are …

1. Creating a My Rush profile—entering insurance information if you have it—in advance.
2. Clicking that Menu icon in the upper lefthand corner.

Now imagine not having a computer and an internet connection.

And say an extra prayer for those who don’t.

* I’m 66.


Joseph Steffen said...

I was unable to create a rush my chart account because “sign up now“ requires a my chart activation code, and “Pay as guest“ requires a guarantor account number or specific visit account number. how exactly did you create a my chart account.
Joseph Steffen

Unknown said...

Same protocol for University of Chicago Hospital, although I am a patient. The only difference is I was able to snag an appointment by signing in at 6am on Monday for 9am. Helped that there was a snow storm over the weekend.

Charlie Meyerson said...

Hi, Joe. If you have no chart activation code, you can “Verify Identity with a Third Party” here: You get a code emailed within a few seconds of completion.

Joseph Steffen said...

I am unable to get an appointment after five days of trying early and late in the day, so it might have been the snow storms that allowed you to get an appointment. Rush may have also tighten the requirements because they added a webpage asking if you had checked several eligibility requirement lists.