United Center

Can You Get a COVID Vaccine at the United Center If You're Not From Chicago?

The appointments will first be open only to Illinois residents ages 65 and older in an exclusive registration period, then if there are any leftover by Sunday, they will open up to all those eligible under Phase 1B

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NOTE: Originally appointments were set to be available for all Illinois residents with pre-existing health conditions beginning Sunday, but now only Chicago residents are eligible for those shots. Get more information here.

Can you receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the United Center's mass vaccination site if you're not from the Chicago area? According to the White House, no.

The United Center location will serve up to 2.9 million people who live within a 30-minute drive time, the White House said, noting that 22,000 people live within a one-mile walking distance of the arena.

"The United Center is one of the best locations for vaccinating large numbers of people in America: it’s easy to get to, is in the midst of a medically underserved community, can handle large crowds and is well known to everyone in Illinois,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement last week.

The United Center is one of 18 "federally-established community vaccination centers" across the country that President Joe Biden's administration highlighted Friday as either recently opened or opening in the coming weeks.

Those sites, including the United Center, were selected based on a range of criteria including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "Social Vulnerability Index."

Chicago and Cook County were identified as having a "significantly medically underserved and marginalized population," the White House said, adding that the United Center is located in a "central and accessible" area with nearby public transit and high walkability.

Officials highlighted that Uber is offering 20,000 free rides to and from the United Center for Chicago residents who need assistance with transportation.

After a Chicago resident books an appointment with Zocdoc, they will receive a confirmation email asking if they need transportation. If so, they will receive a $40 Uber credit that will only work for rides to and from the venue.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady noted that the first few weeks of the site's operation would be walk-up but that there are plans to add a drive-up component in the coming weeks.

More than 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at the United Center location opened this week exclusively to Illinois residents age 65 and over.

The exclusive registration period for seniors will be open through Sunday at 4 p.m., Arwady said in a Facebook Live update this week.

"Then, once we get to Sunday, if we don't see all of the appointments taken by people over 65, starting 4 p.m. on Sunday is when we would then open up to people with underlying conditions," Arwady added.

Following the special registration period exclusively for seniors, the site will be open to all Illinois residents - not just those who live in Chicago - who currently qualify for vaccinations under the current Phase 1B Plus of the state's vaccine rollout plan.

Here's how to sign up:

  • To register online, visit Zocdoc.com/vaccine. The web site is projected to handle much higher volume of appointment requests. Zocdoc will show real-time appointment availability and eligible residents will then be able to select a date/time and book an appointment online. Date of birth will be required when booking an appointment to confirm vaccine eligibility.
  • To register by phone, call (312) 746-4835. A multi-lingual call center will be available to help seniors make an appointment from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Given the anticipated high demand for appointments, residents who can use the website should book their appointments online. While the call center has 200 staffers, those who need to use the call center will very likely experience lengthy wait times.

The United Center mass coronavirus vaccination site is set to open to those eligible in Phase 1B next week under a new federal pilot program.

A coalition of federal, state and local officials announced last week that the vaccination site would open March 10. However, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the location would open on a limited basis a day earlier, on March 9.

The United Center site will operate seven days a week for eight weeks and will be able to administer 6,000 shots per day at full capacity, officials said, noting that vaccinations would be by appointment only and that demand was "anticipated to be high." Those doses will be provided directly from the federal government and not diverted from the supply sent to Chicago or Illinois.

Vaccinations will be offered at no cost and insurance is not required, nor will it be requested at the site, Pritzker's office said.

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