How does eligibility vary by state, and why? Although the C.D.C. issued recommendations last month for which groups states should vaccinate initially, while the vaccine supply is still relatively low, the priorities are not binding and each state has come up with its own groupings. Nor can the federal government require states to change the prioritization plans they have already announced, although the new pressure from Mr. Azar, and growing public impatience as deaths from the virus keep hitting new peaks, may sway many to do so. In coming up with priority groups, state officials considered criteria like who is most likely to die if they contract Covid-19 — including people of color as well as the elderly and the sick — and which professions are critical to helping the economy fully reopen. Each state’s unique demographics also played a role.

I qualify now. How do I sign up?

This depends very much on what state or even what county you live in. Some local public health departments have set up portals where people can make appointments; others are holding mass vaccination events and inoculating people on a first-come, first-served basis. Generally, doctor’s offices and pharmacies have asked that patients and customers not call them seeking vaccine appointments just yet, and instead wait to be contacted. Most pharmacies are not yet offering the vaccine, but CVS, Walgreens and a number of other chain pharmacies, including some in grocery and big-box stores, will soon start doing so through a partnership with the federal government.

With the federal government saying that older people and those with underlying medical conditions should get vaccinated next, what happens to essential

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