International vaccination without appointment: tips and tricks

Imagine the situation: suddenly you have a trip in a month to a country that needs a series of vaccines. When you enter the website of the Ministry of Health to make an appointment , you find this:

Faced with such a scenario, you decide to call the telephone number offered for this purpose by the Madrid City Council on its website  of the center closest to your home.

The answer is the same: there are no appointments before the date of the trip with enough margin for the vaccines to be effective . You explain the situation but the only solution they give you is to call each day, several times a day, the same phone number in case someone has canceled the appointment and just then one is free. All very logical.

In the face of logic he asks  what if nobody cancels? the lady on the other end of the phone answers: “Currently there are no appointments available, I cannot tell you anything else.” 

In case anyone is thinking, I confirm it: Last week I found myself in this situation and after a journey by land, sea and air (Internet, telephone and window), in the end I did it. Because in case someone doubts it, persistent me (who says persistent says tired or pain) nobody wins me.

Tips to get vaccines abroad without an appointment (in Madrid)

1. Call the 4 centers listed on the website one by one or visit their appointment websites one by one:

  1. The international vaccination unit of Hospital Carlos III . 91 779 26 59
  2. The international vaccination unit of the Hospital October 12. 914 532 672 or 914 532 780.
  3. The center of Calle Francisco Silvela, 57. 91 272 94 41/42/43
  4. The center of Montesa street. 91 529 82 10

Combing the centers one by one, you can scratch some days although in my case the dates they offered me were still not enough. So I went to point 2:

2. Queue at Francisco Silvela at 4 in the morning.

In the center of Calle Montesa, they told me that there was an “alternative route”: in the center of Francisco Silvela they vaccinate the first 10-12 people in line every morning, even if they don’t have an appointment . Yes, as it happens in some police stations with the DNI. To do this, the staff indicated that you practically had to spend the night at the door since many people stood in line from 4 or 5 in the morning. Although the measure seemed desperate, really in a desperate situation is something to hold on to.

After they told me about it in Montesa, I approached Francisco Silvela to confirm that it was true and it really is.

3. Present yourself to the bravas with the plane ticket pleading.

Although I have been told that “it usually works”, it is not a recommended option. Obviously there is no guarantee in this regard (if not, why we want an appointment system) and we can find the unpleasant surprise of leaving there as we entered, without vaccinating. It should never become an option. 

 4. Private healthcare is not always an option

If someone is thinking “well if that happens to me, I get vaccinated in a private hospital, for what it’s worth and I stay calm.” I thought so too, and I called a private hospital with an international vaccination department in a timely manner. BUT it turns out that private centers do not have authorization for the yellow fever vaccine, this being important for traveling to many countries.

5. Make an appointment in another autonomous community?

I also tried, as with passports and IDs … and they gave me for dates after Madrid

6. Be lucky …

This is what happened to me. When I saw myself spending the night with the sleeping bag as a “Vacunalieber” waiting for her concert, in Francisco Silvela, I was informed that just the previous afternoon new appointments had been opened. Excuse me that I would not have found out. For this, as I commented, you must be constantly calling the phone or visiting the web, something that is not compatible with people’s personal and work life.

The point is that “exceptionally” several appointments had been opened and although until now they only gave a date for September, suddenly there were dates available in July. I asked for my appointment and that of my companion (only need to give name, surname, ID and date of birth) and I left relieved.

If he had been calling every ten minutes or “refreshing” the website would have succeeded too. In fact, in the center of Montesa they even explained to me how I could install a button on the desktop to “refresh” the pages automatically.

Apothecary conclusion

It seems absolutely incredible to me that at the heights of the film in which we live I have had to miss two mornings: one on the web / telephone and the other doing a face-to-face tour of several centers, to get the appointment. And that in addition, I have obtained it by pure luck, in the words of the person who treated me “this that appointments have been opened is exceptional, take it fast because they will probably sell out throughout the day.” 

It also seems crazy to me that people have to spend the night outdoors waiting to get vaccinated.

Yes, I know that this is avoided by doing things in advance, but in my case I did not travel from one week to the next. My deadline was almost two months and with this margin it was impossible to get a date with enough margin for the vaccines to be effective. We are talking about international vaccination, acquiring immunity against deadly diseases in a context in which travel to countries with this type of disease is something that is the order of the day.

Gentlemen of the Ministry of Health, of the Community of Madrid or to whom it may concern: No one gets these vaccines for pure pleasure but out of necessity (in addition, a payment must be made, so there is no abuse of the service). It seems that things can be done better, so please give it a little spin …


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