Most Chicago residents eligible for the coronavirus vaccine in the city's Phase 1C will be able to schedule vaccination appointments in mid to late spring, according to health officials.
Although the city is set to move into Phase 1C in late March, most newly eligible people will not likely be able to book appointments or receive the vaccine until April and May, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a press conference Wednesday.
"I know a lot of people are anxious to be vaccinated and I also know that April is probably going to feel frustrating for some of them...and into May," Arwady said. "I do think that we will be at a point that is going to start feeling more like a typical flu vaccine."
She added that by May, the city could have enough vaccine to partner with employers to provide workers with the COVID-19 vaccine.
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The speed at which the vaccine can be administered will primarily depend on how quickly Chicago can receive shipments from the federal government, Arwady explained, which could depend on when most people in Phase 1C can be vaccinated.
"My concern, you know, as we open, is that people will think magically there is a huge supply that starts March 29, and there isn't," Arwady said. "But we will have received, by that point, enough vaccine to have gotten through, you know, the very large majority -- around three quarters -- of the people who would have been eligible in in 1B."
Chicago will enter Phase 1C, expanding coronavirus vaccine eligibility to include those with underlying health conditions and essential workers, on March 29, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot officially announced Wednesday.
Lightfoot noted the expansion means that in two weeks, vaccine eligibility in Chicago will expand to residents with underlying health conditions and essential workers, including restaurant employees, hotel workers, hairdressers, clergy members, construction workers, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers, among others. Those already eligible under Phases 1A and 1B will also remain eligible in 1C.
Click here for a full list of who is eligible
Arwady noted that eligibility at city-run vaccination sites will be limited to only Chicago residents.
"I want to clarify that beginning March 29, only Chicago residents will be able to be vaccinated at City of Chicago vaccination sites," Arwady said. "We've asked health care providers to continue prioritizing vaccination for their existing patients who have the most underlying conditions, so we don't require residency requirements for you to get vaccinated with your regular doctor or when we are doing employer-focused vaccinations, which is likely to be able to begin, probably more in earnest in May."
Arwady said the city won't force a residency requirement, but said for public vaccination sites "at least for the next couple of months, we will be limiting that eligibility for Chicago residents."
Lightfoot noted, however, that as eligibility expands, appointments will still be limited based on supply.
"What this shift to phase 1C doesn't mean is that we'll have enough vaccine for those who are newly eligible right away," the mayor said. "We are optimistic that we will continue to see a steady flow of vaccine in March, that April will even look better, but we want to make sure that we manage folks' expectations. It will take us some time because of the limited supply that we are still getting, but hope is on the way. We are expected to receive more vaccines over the course of this next phase."
Chicago remains under Phase 1B, which includes frontline essential workers and residents age 65 and older, as well as health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents who were eligible under Phase 1A of the city's rollout.
The city opted out of expanding to Phase 1B Plus alongside the state, which made those with certain underlying medical conditions eligible, due to what it said was a lack of supply.
Already, many residents eligible under Phase 1B Plus of the state's rollout can get vaccinated at the federally-run United Center mass vaccination site.
"This marks a major increase in eligibility," Arwady said. "And that means that in April and May, we will be focused on vaccinating people with underlying conditions and essential workers, especially those who can't work from home, but we're going to keep our focus on anybody who didn't get the vaccine yet in 1A or 1B, and continue to make sure that where people are getting a two-dose vaccine series, they get that on time."
For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.