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I got the COVID-19 vaccine at a CVS, and it was so fast and efficient that it’s not hard to understand how the chain has already vaccinated 10 million Americans (CVS)

Summary List PlacementOn Thursday morning, CVS announced an important milestone in the race to vaccinate Americans against the coronavirus: 10 million shots delivered, and capacity to administer up to 25 million shots per month. Later that morning, I walked into a CVS on Staten Island and became one of the...

CVS vaccine covid

Summary List Placement

On Thursday morning, CVS announced an important milestone in the race to vaccinate Americans against the coronavirus: 10 million shots delivered, and capacity to administer up to 25 million shots per month.

Later that morning, I walked into a CVS on Staten Island and became one of the next 10 million.

The process of getting vaccinated at CVS was so friendly, so efficient, and so well organized that it helped me understand why the pharmacy chain is able to vaccinate so many folks so quickly. 

Earlier this week, when vaccine appointment eligibility opened to anyone in New York 30 years of age and older, I went to the CVS scheduling tool, plugged in my information, and found a surprising number of open appointments for Staten Island locations.

CVS appointment confirmation

I scheduled an appointment for Thursday morning, and received a confirmation email soon after.

As someone who’s been trying, and failing, to buy a PlayStation 5 for months, it was a surprisingly glitch-free experience using the CVS scheduling tool. I was able to simply enter information, select a time, and confirm my selection. 

On Thursday morning, before embarking on the lengthy drive from the middle of Brooklyn to the middle of Staten Island, I got a text message from CVS with a link to digitally check in when I arrived at the store: 

CVS vaccine check in

An hour-plus later, I parked my car and digitally signed in. Having told CVS I was at the store, I turned off my car and walked inside.

Before I could even begin to be confused as to where I should go, I spotted a check-in desk.

Immediately to the right of the entryway doors, CVS employees had created a temporary check-in desk for vaccinations:

CVS check-in for COVID vaccinations

There was no line, and check-ins were being handled simply: With a highlighter on paper. 

After I gave my name, I was instructed to proceed down the adjacent aisle where a handful of people were already lined up on socially-distanced squares marked on the ground.

As we waited, another CVS employee with a clipboard walked down the line, took IDs, and filled out each person’s coveted CDC vaccination card with information about their first shot — it’s the card that everyone takes selfies with, even though you probably shouldn’t.

By the time I’d received my card, I was moving to the next step of the process: Checking in for a second time with an employee behind a computer who confirmed my address.

At this point, I could see the full operation. Employees had essentially set up a flexible assembly line for vaccinating people, and it was moving rapidly.

CVS vaccination lobby, Staten Island

From where I was, the next step was getting vaccinated, and then waiting the requisite 15 minutes just in case I had a reaction.

Employees had smartly used self checkout dividers to turn their pharmacy lobby into a socially distanced waiting room. “Endcap” products were displaced for seated patients who were able to sit directly next to each other due to the dividers.

CVS vaccination area, Staten Island, NY.

The shot itself was quick, and relatively painless, as expected.

The man who gave me the shot asked if I had any questions, and I blurted out a silly question that I already knew the answer to (“When will I be fully vaccinated?”), and he kindly answered something he’s assuredly answered a thousand times already (“You’ll receive the full benefits of the vaccination two weeks after your second shot.”).

The same employee who gave me my CDC vaccination card ushered me over to the seating area and asked how I was, so I enthusiastically said I was “feeling great.” The truth, of course, is I was feeling unbelievably happy and hopeful for the first time in what feels like forever. It’s been over a year, folks! There’s no getting that time back!

She handed me a 15 minute timer, and I took a seat.

CVS vaccine waiting

About halfway through my 15-minute wait, an employee came over to ask how I was feeling once again, and I marveled at how swift and efficient their process was. She relayed how happy it made her to help people get vaccinated, and said it makes the day go all the faster. 

My appointment was scheduled for 10:45 a.m., and I was back in my car on the way out of the parking lot by 11:21 a.m. I may or may not have bought Easter candy at CVS before leaving, which assuredly added a minute or two.

All in, the process took a little over half an hour from start to finish, and everyone was a delight along the way. From what I saw, it makes perfect sense that CVS is rolling through so many vaccinations so quickly — they’re doing it very well.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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