Chicago officials announced Thursday that the city will move into a modified version of its next phase of coronavirus vaccinations, allowing health care providers to begin vaccinating people over the age of 65.
But, city officials warned, even if you qualify to be vaccinated in this next phase, you can't register through the city's vaccination sites yet.
How can you find out when it's your turn to get vaccinated?
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.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city's move into a modified Phase 1B on Thursday, saying hospitals and outpatient sites enrolled as COVID-19 vaccine providers can, beginning Jan. 18, administer vaccines to patients over age 65.
Providers are instructed to continue to prioritize health care workers, particularly non-hospital based health care workers in Phase 1A, per the city's updated vaccination plan, and to only vaccinate those over 65 if they have doses of the vaccine available and do not have health care workers scheduled for vaccination, officials said.
Prioritization will be given to those over age 75 or those over age 65 who have significant underlying conditions, Arwady said.
Officials also announced Thursday that the city will be opening six more Points of Dispensing (PODs) mass 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, namely those over 65, 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.
"When there is an opportunity for individuals to be able to sign up for vaccine themselves, we will be sharing the website, the process for them to be able to do that," Arwady said.
"Right now, those providers that are receiving vaccine are primarily vaccinating our outpatient health care workers, or if they have vaccine that is going unused they are able to start vaccinating their existing patients," she continued.
"This will be shared. I'm not trying to not share what's going on but I don't want people to get the impression that they can sign up for an appointment just yet," Arwady adding, noting that she expected that option would be available "very soon."
"We are expecting shortly to be able to truly move ahead with saying, 'Those who are over 65, we'll be opening up our mass points of dispensing, our vaccination sites for you,'" Arwady said. "We'll be making appointments available in our pharmacies for you and importantly we are working to get your doctors enrolled to be vaccinators."
Arwady noted that just a week-and-a-half prior, the city had fewer than five outpatient providers enrolled, but that that number had grown to more than 275 by Thursday and continues to rise.
"Progress is good here. I want to very clear: there is no vaccine being wasted," Arwady said. "We also want to make sure all vaccine is being used but that we continue to make sure our health care workers get the vaccine that they need and that they deserve."
"If you want to make sure you've signed up to get our notifications for when it is your turn, you are welcome to enroll in Chi COVID Coach as we've been promoting all along," she continued. "We will let you know when there is the opportunity for you to be able to - when we are able to more fully move into this next phase."
Chicago health officials had initially said they expected Phase 1B will begin in the city in February or March.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce this week when Illinois will enter Phase 1B of the state's coronavirus vaccine rollout, though some areas may already be allowed to do so.
"I expect to make a formal announcement later this week on when Illinois
will move into Phase 1B on a statewide basis," Pritzker said during his coronavirus update Monday. "Of course, anyone in Phase 1A who has chosen not to get vaccinated yet will always be able to opt in during any subsequent round – this is about leaving no vaccine sitting on the shelves as we move forward."