‘Vax hawks’ help thousands in Central Virginia find vaccine appointments

‘Vax hawks’ help thousands in Central Virginia find vaccine appointments
"Vax Hawks" help thousands of Central Virginians book the exact vaccine shot they're hoping to nab. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As Virginia is now in the process of moving to vaccinate the general public in Phase 2, tens of thousands more central Virginians will be scoping out appointments. One Facebook group called ‘RVA Vaccination Hunters’ is helping people find the specified vaccination shots they want, and troubleshoot any other questions.

The more than 10,000 members of the group have nicknamed themselves ‘vax hawks.’ They post tips, like when and where appointments open up, which brand of vaccine the location is offering, and even where to get your vaccination card laminated.

“I am definitely spending more than 40 hours a week on this site,” Liz Thurman, one of the administrators of the group, said.

Thurman, who works as a speech pathologist at several local hospitals, has picked up another full-time job in helping monitor and answer questions within the RVA Vaccination Hunter Facebook group.

“Sometimes people pop up… and they’ll ask a question about trying to help a vulnerable family member or an elderly person, and our members are wonderful. They will chime in right away and try to send the person some links and some options,” Thurman said.

Tracking down appointments for specific vaccines like the Johnson & Johnson shot has also become a hot topic.

Another vax hawk in the group, Megan Fuller, has helped nearly a dozen others book their shots.

“I think part of the confusion is there are lots of options available, but it changes week to week,” Fuller said.

For example, some clinics and pharmacies schedule your second dose on the spot. Others make you go back online to schedule it yourself.

Some members report still being able to nab leftover shots at certain pharmacies in the event of cancellations. However, Virginia Department of Health clinics are no longer offering leftover doses to folks waiting around. Officials say they now have a system now on who to contact first.

Other vax hawks have even posted that particular out-of-state clinics are welcoming Virginians to schedule a time slot.

There’s even a Twitter feed that posts constant open appointments, detailing the kind of shot offered, location and links to schedule.

“I think the most important thing to understand is that we’re not trying to jump the line,” Fuller said.

RVA Vaccination Hunters is one of many groups and websites that have surfaced across the nation to help people sort out the vaccination process, which can differ depending on what phase you’re in, where you live, and where exactly you get vaccinated.

“The collective knowledge to say, ‘Hey, if you’re in this situation, if you’re in this part of town, this is a great option for you.’”

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