Chicago's top doctor said Tuesday that city officials "continue having to swat down rumors" about eligibility for the United Center's mass vaccination site.
"Nothing has changed related to eligibility at the United Center," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a news conference. "I know there were things again circulating on social media saying you should take this code and use it because the city wants anybody to sign up. That is not true."
Seniors age 65 and up who live anywhere in Chicago as well residents who live in one of 17 "vulnerable, under-vaccinated ZIP codes" and have underlying conditions are currently eligible to get vaccinated at the United Center.
Those ZIP codes are: 60608, 60609, 60619, 60620, 60621, 60623, 60624, 60628, 60629, 60632, 60636, 60639, 60644, 60649, 60651, 60652, 60653.
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Seniors and eligible residents of those ZIP codes can book appointments by calling (312) 746-4835 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Targeted outreach is also being done in those communities to help register residents, per CDPH.
Arwady said any codes or vouchers circulating are only for people in the prioritized ZIP codes or who are part of an outreach effort with organizations serving groups that need to be prioritized - and that anyone improperly using those codes who is not eligible would have their appointments canceled.
"Let me just be really clear, that if you try to sign up and attest that you live in a certain ZIP code or are supposed to be on a list and you're not, we won't confirm that appointment and you won't be able to get a vaccine," Arwady said.
Chicago residents who are currently eligible for vaccinations can register for any other limited appointments at the United Center as they are made available via zocdoc.com/vaccine.
Click here for a complete guide of where you can sign up for the COVID vaccine in Illinois.
Arwady noted that Chicago is slated to move into Phase 1C of its vaccination rollout on Monday, expanding coronavirus vaccine eligibility to include those with underlying health conditions and more essential workers.
Click here for a complete list of who's eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago's Phase 1C.
Arwady said "most" of the United Center first-dose appointments are booked, with second doses slated to begin in the coming days, as well as work going on behind the scenes to ensure that Cook County residents can also be vaccinated with the supply set aside for them. But Arwady said the United Center is "a small piece" of the vaccinations being done in Chicago and encouraged residents to continue to check the zocdoc.com/vaccine website.
Appointments for the United Center site originally opened on March 4, but only for Illinois residents age 65 and older in an exclusive registration period for seniors only. Three days later, they opened up for Chicago residents eligible in Phase 1B Plus - a change from what officials initially said would be all Illinoisans - and were quickly filled.
That change, narrowing to just Chicago residents, was made based on federal guidance after less than 40% of the initial appointments booked by seniors went to Chicago residents, despite the United Center's selection as a site in part because of its "close proximity to the most vulnerable populations in the city," with a focus on vaccinating residents of communities most hard-hit by COVID-19.
The site moved to ZIP code eligibility with "ongoing focused outreach" to the targeted communities, the city said.
When available, some appointments may open for Chicago residents with qualifying underlying health conditions who live outside of these ZIP codes. Those appointments will appear in Zocdoc as they become available.
The United Center's mass vaccination site is part of a new federal pilot program and will operate seven days a week for eight weeks, able to administer 6,000 shots per day at full capacity. Those doses are provided directly from the federal government and not diverted from the supply sent to Chicago or Illinois.