A new kind of big top is coming to the United Center next week, and there are still big seats – uh, appointments – available.
It may not be the biggest spectacle on Earth, but officials say the new mass vaccination site launching next week outside Near West Stadium offers Illinois seniors the best opportunity to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
And while it’s been a circus for many Illinois residents jumping through the hoop to close their vaccine slots elsewhere, thousands of appointments at the United Center were still available as of Saturday afternoon for people 65 and older. .
Those appointments are reserved for seniors until 4 p.m. Sunday, when chronically ill people 16 and older will be eligible to take the leftovers.
“The city works 24 hours a day to ensure that all residents of our city are vaccinated, especially the elderly, who are among the most vulnerable to the disease,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said in a statement. “Vaccinating older residents, regardless of underlying conditions, has the greatest impact on preventing COVID-19-related deaths, as more than 80% of Chicago deaths have been older people.”
Only about a quarter of the 110,000 available appointments had been booked as of Friday morning. Officials did not provide an updated count on Saturday, but many spaces remained available online during the third and fourth weeks of March.
City officials said they have “significantly expanded” their capacity at the multilingual call center to receive appointments at (312) 746-4835. However, to reduce waiting times, they recommend reserving online at zocdoc.com/vaccine.
United Center’s first vaccines will be delivered Tuesday at the federally-operated site, which will distribute about 6,000 doses per day, providing the latest arm injection for a vaccine launch that is gaining momentum across Illinois.
The state set a record for the second day in a row with 134,239 vaccinations administered on Friday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Nearly 3.3 million doses have been administered since December, and about 1.1 million people have been fully vaccinated, either with the required two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or with Johnson’s new unique formula. & Johnson.
That means about 8.5% of Illinois residents have been vaccinated, well below the 80% officials aim to achieve herd immunity.
While that goal is in the offing, Illinois’ moving average of shots per day hits a new high of 90,428.
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At the same time, infection rates across the state have fallen to near record lows, although newer and more infectious strains of the virus have been identified in the state, with older ones still taking a brutal toll.
Officials reported that 2,565 new cases were diagnosed among 79,248 tests, slightly raising the average Illinois positivity rate to 2.4%.
The state also recorded another 50 deaths from COVID-19, including that of a Cook County man in his 30s.
That’s higher than the state’s daily average of about 37 deaths per day for the past week, but overall, the death rate is down from about 56 per day as of early February.
The death toll in Illinois over the past year has risen to 20,750, among 1.2 million residents who tested positive.