United Center

United Center Mass Vaccination Site Opens Tuesday

Appointment-only vaccinations will be available at the facility seven days a week for eight weeks

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The United Center mass vaccination site, which is expected to serve approximately 6,000 people daily, making it the largest such operation in the state, will officially open its doors to eligible residents Tuesday.

NBC 5 got an inside look at the massive facility Monday evening as crews made preparations to welcome the site's first vaccine recipients.

When residents first enter the doors, they'll undergo a health screening and then proceed to receive the shot from a medical professional, who will answer any questions they might have.

According to the a spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is assisting with opening the large-scale vaccination site, said the wait time inside a designated fenced-in area is no more than half an hour.

While some have secured appointments, obtaining one has turned into a difficult task for many residents.

Chicagoan Bill Jensen shared his frustrating experience from this past weekend when he got three quarters of the way through the sign-up process. He was suddenly locked out when it came time to select an appointment time.

"I’m not shocked that it’s hard to get appointments," Jensen said. "It’s a limited resource and a ton of demand. Having said that, the program stunk!"

Zocdoc, the site on which registration is conducted, was plagued by glitches Sunday as a large number of people sought to obtain appointments.

"Zocdoc identified and resolved the root issue in less than one hour, and Chicago residents were successfully able to book vaccinations, reaching peak booking rates of more than 750 bookings per minute," a statement read. "Due to high demand, our current allotment of United Center vaccine availability was quickly fully booked."

Some residents also reported they were able to book appointments, but they were later canceled without explanation. When asked about the situation for those users, Zocdoc said the issue was related to multiple people attempting to book the same slot.

During an exclusive registration period last week, more than 40,000 Illinois residents over the age of 65 were able to secure appointments. On Sunday afternoon, appointments were initially slated to expand to all Illinois residents qualified to get vaccinated under Phase 1B Plus.

But in a last-minute move, officials announced that eligibility would change to include only Chicago residents in Phase 1B Plus, which is anyone over 65, some frontline workers, school staff and more, or anyone 18 and up who has certain health conditions or comorbidities.

The change sparked confusion and frustration for some who had been waiting to book appointments at the new site. 

Vaccinations, which will require an appointment, will be available at the facility seven days a week for eight weeks. Residents are asked to bring proof they've secured an appointment.

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