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.
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."
With more people booking vaccination appointments, here's what you need to know before the opening next week:
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When Will the United Center Vaccination Site Be Open?
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.
Can I Still Make an Appointment?
More than 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at the United Center's new mass vaccination site opened this week exclusively to Illinois residents age 65 and over.
The exclusive registration period for seniors remained open until Sunday at 4 p.m.
Following the special registration period exclusively for seniors, the site was supposed to open to residents age 18 and up with comorbidities and underlying medical conditions, but due to a change in guidance from FEMA, eligibility was restricted only to Chicago residents.
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.
Do I Have to Pay For a COVID Vaccine?
Vaccinations will be offered at no cost and insurance is not required, nor will it be requested at the site, Pritzker's office said.
How Will I Get to the United Center?
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.
Arwady noted Tuesday 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.
Can I Go to the United Center Vaccination Site If I am Not From Chicago?
Appointments through Zocdoc are currently limited only to Chicago residents.
Suburban Cook County residents will be eligible to sign up via Cook County's COVID vaccination website. The exact start date and time to sign up for that bloc of appointments will be announced at a later date.
Who Is Eligible in Phase 1B of Coronavirus Vaccinations?
The state expanded Phase 1B guidelines last week, 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
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.