United Center

United Center Mass COVID Vaccination Site Closes Thursday

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The United Center's mass COVID vaccination is closing, with Thursday to be its last day administering shots as Chicago shifts its vaccine strategy away from the major sites to a more hyperlocal focus.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and CDPH's Assistant Commissioner Christopher Shields announced the closure during a Facebook Live broadcast Tuesday morning.

"This week is the last week for the United Center," Arwady said during a discussion about the city's overall preparedness for and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the effort to stand up the mass vaccination site at the UC.

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"United Center on this Thursday the 24th will provide its last vaccination and then we will return the property back over," Shields replied.

"Again, can't thank the United Center enough and all of the partners who just, you know, this really central location, it really outperformed my expectations I think, in terms of people coming from all over the city as one of our fixed PODs," Arwady said, with "PODs" standing for "points of dispensing" locations to administer vaccines.

Arwady and Shields said Tuesday that the United Center site, which opened March 9, has administered more than 301,000 doses of vaccine.

The city health officials highlighted the accessibility elements of the site that they said made it a success, noting that the site took into consideration feedback calling for a drive-thru option as well as accessibility for those with disabilities and on-site translators.

About 62,000 of the vaccine doses administered were to those who used translators, equating to roughly one in every five vaccinations.

Arwady noted that Chicago is moving away from the larger, fixed mass vaccination sites in its strategy in favor of a more "hyperlocal" approach to target populations that have not yet been vaccinated.

But, she noted, "You can still get a free vaccine through the United Center, we've got Pfizer and J&J. The last day for the drive-thru is Thursday, of course, if you're getting your first dose, we'll have to send you for your second dose somewhere else.

"We'll have availability at Malcolm X or you can get it on your own," she added, calling the UC a "huge piece" of the city's vaccination strategy.

The mass vaccination site at the United Center opened on March 9 under a federal pilot program and run by a coalition of federal, state and local officials.

Originally slated to be open eight weeks, the site will have remained open for more than 15 weeks by the time it closes.

The site has operated seven days a week and had the ability to administer 6,000 shots per day at full capacity, officials said, with the initial doses provided from the federal government separate from the city or state of Illinois' vaccine allocation.

Chicago officials on Wednesday highlighted that the city became one of the first nationally to "extend its equity strategy to mass vaccination sites," making appointments available first to residents most impacted by COVID-19.

About 45% of Chicago residents vaccinated at the United Center were Black or Latinx as a result, the city said.

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