Chicago's United Center will be turned into a mass COVID-19 vaccination site opening next week, but appointments will open for some residents beginning Thursday.
Illinois officials say all residents who are currently eligible to be vaccinated under the current Phase 1B Plus of the state's vaccine rollout plan will be able to get vaccinated there, but priority will be given to residents age 65 and older.
The site will be appointment only, Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office said in a statement Friday, and seniors will have first access to appointments before the site opens.
If any appointments are still available after seniors have had their exclusive registration period, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and ends at 4 p.m. Sunday, any remaining slots will be open to all Illinoisans eligible under the state's guidelines.
"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.
Illinois expanded Phase 1B of its vaccination plan Thursday, opening up eligibility to include 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
The site was expected to open on March 10, but Pritzker said Tuesday that it will open on a limited basis a day earlier, on March 9, with a full opening the following day. Arwady said that early opening was made possible based on "how some of the resources are coming in."
The site will operate seven days a week for eight weeks under the federal government’s vaccination pilot program.