Monday will mark a milestone day in the fight against the novel coronavirus, as the state of Illinois (outside of the city of Chicago) will throw open the doors and allow all residents age 16 and older to sign up for coronavirus vaccine appointments.
With that move, Illinois will join a growing list of states that have opened up eligibility for the vaccine, taking another step toward what officials hope will be herd immunity, and an end to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
As the state hits that important milestone, here’s everything you need to know:
Which Vaccines Are Available to Which Residents?
While the state will allow all residents 16 years of age and older to receive coronavirus vaccines, there is an important caveat to that eligibility.
Under terms of the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) that have allowed the three coronavirus vaccines currently in circulation in the United States, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to residents that are 16 or 17 years old.
The other two vaccines, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, can be administered to residents 18 years of age and older.
Patience Will be Key
While eligibility for vaccine appointments will open up on Monday, that doesn’t necessarily mean that residents will be able to immediately score sessions to get their shots, as vaccine appointments will likely go quickly in the weeks following the expansion.
One of the biggest hurdles is an expected shortage of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, caused by manufacturing issues at a major plant in Baltimore. While the U.S. government allocated 4.9 million doses of the vaccine in the first week of April, last week’s allocation was much smaller, with just 700,000 doses made available.
The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been viewed as critically important in getting doses to underserved and rural communities, but it will take time before production can once again meet demand.
How Can I Book an Appointment?
In the state of Illinois, new appointment sites are opening up frequently, but there are several main types of sites to keep an eye on if you’re looking to score an appointment.
The Illinois National Guard is helping the state of Illinois to run vaccination sites, and more information on those sites, of which there are dozens, can be found here.
The United Center mass vaccination site is still taking appointments, and more information on that site, along with other sites in Chicago accepting appointments, can be found on Zocdoc’s website.
NBC Chicago has also compiled information about several other potential outlets for appointments, including hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, and more.
Are There Side Effects? Who is Most Susceptible to Them?
Researchers are continuing to work on determining the types of side effects that vaccine recipients can expect.
Even if you experience side effects, the CDC says that those effects are perfectly natural, and in fact can be a sign that your body is having an immune response, exactly what scientists want to have happen in order to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.
“These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection, and should go away within a few days,” the CDC says.
Side effects can include pain, redness and swelling in the arm you have received the shot in. Tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea are also commonly reported symptoms after receiving COVID vaccine doses.
Doctors recommend drinking plenty of fluids after receiving your shot. Using or exercising your arm can also help with pain following the injection, and applying a clean, cool and wet washcloth to the affected area can provide relief.
Not all individuals will experience side effects from the vaccine, although three groups have reported more side effects than others. According to the CDC, 79% of side effects were reported by women, while younger individuals under the age of 50 and those who have already had coronavirus have also been shown to be more susceptible to side effects.
More information can be found in this video:
I’m a Chicago Resident. When Can I Sign Up for a COVID Vaccine?
All Chicago residents age 16 and older will be eligible to sign up for COVID vaccine appointments beginning on April 19, the Department of Health says.
The department has been closely monitoring vaccine availability, and made the determination to wait an additional week before moving forward with an expansion of eligibility, according to health officials.