The exclusive COVID-19 vaccine appointment registration for seniors will end Sunday afternoon, opening up the chance for more people in Phase 1B to receive the vaccine.
The United Center's new mass vaccination site opened this week with more than 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations exclusively for Illinois residents age 65 and over.
Following the special registration period exclusively for seniors, the site will be open to 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.
"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," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
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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.
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.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that early opening was made possible based on "how some of the resources are coming in."
Beginning Sunday, the United Center will open up appointments to those eligable under Illinois' Phase 1B Plus guidelines, which includes people with certain high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities.
The list of qualifying high-risk medical conditions (which is subject to change) includes:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Heart Condition
- Immunocompromised State from a Solid Organ Transplant
- Pulmonary Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
Previously under the earlier iteration Phase 1B, residents age 65 and over as well as essential workers were eligible to receive the vaccine. Here's a look at those who already qualified under Phase 1B:
- Residents age 65 and over
- Frontline essential workers, which means "residents who carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure because of their work duties, often because they are unable to work from home, and/or they must work closely to others without being able to socially distance. This includes:
- First responders: Fire, law enforcement, 911 workers, security persPDonnel, school officers
- Education: Teachers, principals, student support, student aids, day care worker
- Food and agriculture: Processing, plants, veterinary health, livestock services, animal care
- Manufacturing: Industrial production of good for distribution to retail, wholesale or other manufactures
- Corrections workers and inmates: Jail officers, juvenile facility staff, workers providing in-person support, inmatesU
- USPS workers
- Public transit workers: Flight crew, bus drivers, train conductors, taxi drivers, para-transit drivers, in-person support, ride sharing services
- Grocery store workers: Baggers, cashiers, stockers, pickup, customer service
- Shelters and day care staff: Homeless shelter, women’s shelter, adult day/drop-in program, sheltered workshop, psycho-social rehab
While the state expanded its Phase 1B, many counties, health departments and hospital systems - including Chicago and Cook County - said they would not join the rest of Illinois in increasing eligibility, citing low vaccine supply for those who already qualify. The United Center will be the only vaccination site where Chicago and Cook County residents who are eligible in Phase 1B Plus will be able to get vaccinated.
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.
According to the White House, the location will serve up to 2.9 million people who live within a 30-minute drive time, 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,” 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.