PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The classic supply vs. demand problem combined with poorly developed vaccine appointment websites is generating lots of frustration for those attempting to get scheduled for a vaccine.
Q: Can you provide any tips for online vaccine appointment websites? They are so frustrating to use!
Being tech-savvy doesn’t necessarily help with the frustration, but approaching the task with a strategy and a few tools may help.
Before the next group of appointments becomes available, go through the process required on the website so you'll know what information you'll need and what to expect. Some websites might not retain information that you need to type every time, so either use your browser's "autofill" feature or have the information in a document so you can copy and paste to make it faster and avoid typos.
Reloading or refreshing the page once you get to the "available appointments" screen is a vital task, so make sure you know what to click or which buttons to use on your keyboard. Windows users can hit the F5 key, but it's better to bypass the local cache to make sure you're requesting new information by holding CTRL while hitting F5. Mac users can use Command+R to force a reload of the page.
You can also use auto-refresh utilities like Super Simple Auto Refresh for Chrome and Microsoft Edge to automatically refresh the page at an interval you choose. If you decide to try a utility, make sure you know how it works and how to tell it to stop so you don't accidentally refresh when an appointment becomes available.
More is better
If you equate this process with an old-school radio station contest -- caller number 35 wins -- you know that you're going to be competing with many others at the same time. Your odds of getting through will increase if you are using multiple computers or have friends and family all attempting simultaneously.
While you can try to use your smartphone as another device, I've found that many websites aren't correctly rendering things on the small screen, so I'd recommend using as many computers as you can.
Are you comfortable resizing multiple browser windows on a single screen or do you have multiple screens set up? If so, you can increase the number of attempts per computer by either using multiple tabs or various browsers.
Expand your search
Most people assume that the closest locations are the best to try. But if you're willing to drive to another county or city with fewer people, they may allow you to set an appointment, which will increase your options.
Monitor pages for changes
Some sites will allow you to sign up for new appointment alerts. You also can use a free utility like Distill.io that will automatically alert you whenever there's a change to any webpage that announces new appointment availability.
Beware of scam websites and emails
Scammers are taking full advantage of this situation by creating fake sites and phishing emails, so be on the alert. Any website that asks you for your credit card information to "pay" for your vaccine is a big red flag.