The city of Chicago released new details about its coronavirus vaccine distribution plan on Tuesday, including tentative dates for when each of the next phases might begin, with a goal of opening vaccinations up to all Chicagoans over the age of 16 by the end of May.
Chicago is currently preparing to enter Phase 1B of its vaccination plan along with the rest of Illinois Monday, opening up doses for frontline workers and those over the age of 65.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced in a livestream on Tuesday that the city will tentatively look to enter the next phase, Phase 1C, on March 29, followed by Phase 2 on May 31.
"I want to be very clear that any dates we provide are purely speculative based on how much vaccine we get," Arwady said. "Right now here in Chicago we're getting 34,000 approximately first doses… per week and that is not even enough to be able to vaccinate 5% of the people who are going to be eligible in Phase 1B."
Phase 1B will center on residents age 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," including first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, and more.
"So right from the beginning I want people to hear that even as the phase opens up, most people will not be able to get vaccine right away that first week, even that second week, etc.," she continued.
Phase 1C includes all essential workers not covered in earlier phases, as well as Chicagoans between the ages of 16 and 64 who have underlying medical conditions, Arwady said.
"Looking ahead to Phase 2, which is really when a vaccine is available to all Chicagoans, we're tentatively saying that might begin May 31, the end of May. All of these numbers for Phase 1C and Phase 2 is subject to change but just to give people a high level sense of what we're thinking," Arwady said.
Earlier this week, health care providers were allowed to begin offering any "leftover doses" of coronavirus vaccines to people over the age of 65 who live or work in Chicago in what was described as a modified phase of the city's vaccination plan.
Officials also announced last week that the city would be opening six more Points of Dispensing (PODs) vaccination sites but noted that those sites will continue to focus only on Phase 1A health care workers, by appointment only.
Arwady noted that those who qualify for vaccinations in this next modified phase do not have to register anywhere and that health care providers will be the ones primarily administering the vaccines.
"I don't want to give people the impression that they can sign up for an appointment just yet," Arwady said, but added that that option would be available "very soon."
Chicago officials say the best way to get updates on the vaccination rollout is through "Chi COVID Coach," a platform the Chicago Department of Public Health is using to monitor symptoms, giving information on testing in the city and help you get the latest details on the city's vaccination plan - including notification when you can register to get your vaccine.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last week that the state will begin its next phase of vaccinations, also known as Phase 1B, on Jan. 25. Phase 1B will include roughly 3.2 million Illinois residents, according to the state.
Pritzker said Friday beginning that this week, the state will be standing up "hundreds of vaccination sites across the state, including retail pharmacy chains, Illinois National Guard mobile teams, state-run mass vaccination locations in northern, central and southern Illinois, hospitals and urgent care locations, and ultimately, doctors’ offices and large employers who can host their own workplace clinics"
The Illinois National Guard was also activated to assist local health departments in expanding vaccination clinics, Pritzker said, with the first two teams deploying to Cook County Health Department sites.
Beginning on Jan. 25, the National Guard-led sites will begin vaccinating residents eligible under Phase 1B, as well as sites at CVS, Jewel Osco and Walgreens, Pritzker said.
All of those vaccination sites will be appointment only, Pritzker said, asking residents not to line up at the store or to call their local pharmacies. He said that before Phase 1B begins, the state will launch the Illinois’ COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Plan website to give residents information on finding a nearby vaccination site and how to make an appointment.