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Starting today—Monday, April 19—the vaccine floodgates are opening in Oregon.

Governor Kate Brown has mandated that, as of today, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The rush to vaccinate everyone in Oregon has taken on a new sense of urgency thanks to new, dangerous variants of the virus sweeping the state, paired with the actions of those who are no longer following the safety advice of the CDC and local health officials.

There have been snags in obtaining the vaccine as well, including initial problems with glitchy vaccine scheduling websites, the federal government shorting Oregon on doses, and the (hopefully) temporary loss of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Recent studies also show how racially diverse and low-income communities have been receiving far fewer doses than those in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods.

Bearing all this in mind, the push to get vaccines in arms as soon as possible will be especially challenging, particularly seeing as how those becoming eligible on April 19 will be the largest group of unvaccinated people yet. (As of today, 39 percent of Oregonians have received their first shot.)

Signing up for a vaccine slot can be challenging and very frustrating, which is both helped and complicated by the various public agencies and privately owned companies (like pharmacies) doing the distribution. The most successful strategy is to bookmark the various vaccination sites, set up pharmacy profiles in advance, learn when new vaccination slots are being released, and stay patient. (Something that could make you feel better is helping out those who are having trouble scheduling their own vaccinations.)

Here's where and how to sign up for your vaccination, along with some helpful tips!

Sign up at getvaccinated.oregon.gov: This puts you in a lottery system to be chosen to get your dose at the mass vaccination site at the Oregon Convention Center. When your name is drawn you'll receive an email or text (your choice) with a time slot to get vaccinated. Since this is a lottery system, you'll definitely want to register in at least a couple more places.

• Check for appointments at the OHSU site: They've teamed up with other health orgs to offer doses at the Portland International Airport as well as sites at their Marquam Hill campus, in Hillsboro, and via mobile vax vans, too.

• You can find appointments at pharmacies, as well: Check Walgreens and CVS, as well as the pharmacies at Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, Costco, Walmart, Bi-Mart, and Health-Mart. You may be required to set up a profile, so have your info ready. (Note: You may be asked for your insurance card—but vaccines are FREE either through your insurance or a federal program for the uninsured. Also, new appointments are often released in batches, scheduling days in advance. Check first thing in the morning for best results.)

Here are some more tips 'n' tricks:

Vaccine Finder is a handy tool for finding which sites might have vaccine supply near you. Type in your zip code and you're off to the races.

• Here's a Facebook group dedicated to finding vaccines in the Portland Metro area, along with offering more tips. (Requires you to join.)

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• Here's a site that will alert you if there are any unclaimed doses (but you need to be ready to go within a few minutes' notice).

• Some local people have been traveling to Salem and other communities that have available appointments due to their smaller populations.

• Got your vaccine, but want to help others? GOOD FOR YOU! Sign up to help seniors and others at Positive Change PDX.