More than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the United Center’s new mass vaccination site will open this week, Chicago and Illinois officials announced Tuesday.
Appointments will open exclusively to Illinois residents 65 and older at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement, noting there will be two ways to sign up:
- To register online, visit Zocdoc.com/vaccine. The website is expected to handle a much higher volume of appointment requests. Zocdoc will display appointment availability in real time and eligible residents will be able to select a date / time and book an appointment online. Date of birth will be required when booking an appointment to confirm vaccine eligibility.
- To register by phone, call (312) 746-4835. To help bridge the digital divide, a multilingual call center will be available to help seniors make an appointment. This call center will be available from 8 a.m. M. At 8 p. M. From Monday to Saturday and from 8 to. M. At 4 p. M. On Sundays. Given the anticipated high demand for appointments, residents who can use the website must book their appointments online. While the call center has 200 employees, those who need to use the call center are likely to experience long wait times.
Initially, appointments will be open only to seniors during an exclusive registration period through Sunday afternoon, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live update Tuesday afternoon. morning.
“Appointments will only be open to people 65 and older,” Arwady said. “Appointments will be open only to seniors, 65 and older, from Thursday 8:30 AM to Sunday 4 PM So Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday It is the moment when if you are over 65, you meet someone over 65, help them get a date. “
“Then once we get to Sunday, if we don’t see all the appointments taken by people 65 and older, starting at 4 pm on Sunday is when we will open up to people with underlying conditions,” Arwady added.
A coalition of federal, state and local officials announced last week that the United Center would become a mass vaccination site under a new federal pilot program, set to open on March 10.
But Pritzker said Tuesday that the site will open on a limited basis the day before, on March 9, with a full opening the next day. Arwady said the early opening was possible based on “how some of the resources are coming in.”
The United Center site will operate seven days a week for eight weeks and will be able to deliver 6,000 injections a day at full capacity, authorities said, noting that the vaccines would be performed by appointment only and that demand was “anticipated to be high. “. Those doses will be provided directly from the federal government and will not deviate from the supply shipped to Chicago or Illinois.
Arwady also noted Tuesday that Uber is offering 20,000 free rides to and from the United Center for Chicagoans who need help with transportation. He said the site’s first few weeks of operation would be direct access, but there are plans to add a vehicle service component in the coming weeks.
After the special senior-only registration period that opens Thursday, the site will be open to all Illinois residents, not just those who live in Chicago, who currently qualify for vaccinations under the plan’s current Phase 1B Plus. implementation of vaccines of the state.
The state expanded the Phase 1B guidelines last week, opening up eligibility to include people with certain high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities.
The list of qualifying high-risk medical conditions (which is subject to change) includes:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart problems
- Immunosuppressed status of a solid organ transplant
- The pregnancy
- Lung disease
- Sickle-cell anaemia
Previously, in phase 1B of the previous iteration, residents 65 and older, as well as essential workers, were eligible to receive the vaccine. Here’s a look at those who have already qualified in Phase 1B:
- Residents 65 and over
- Essential frontline workers, meaning ‘residents who are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their job duties, often because they are unable to work from home and / or must work closely with others without being able to socially distance themselves “. This includes:
- First responders: Firefighters, Law Enforcement, 911 Workers, Security Personnel, School Officials
- Education: Teachers, principals, student support, student aids, daycare worker
- Food and Agriculture: Processing, plants, veterinary health, livestock services, animal care
- Manufacturing: Industrial production of goods for distribution to retail, wholesale or other manufactures.
- Correctional workers and inmates: Jail Officers, Juvenile Facilities Staff, In-Person Support Workers, Inmates
- USPS workers
- Public transport workers: Flight crew, bus drivers, train drivers, taxi drivers, paratransit drivers, in-person support, ride-sharing services
- Grocery store workers: Baggers, Cashiers, Warehouses, Collection, Customer Service
- Shelters and daycare staff: Homeless shelter, women’s shelter, adult day program / walk-in program, sheltered workshop, psychosocial rehabilitation
While the state expanded its Phase 1B, many counties, health departments and hospital systems, including Chicago and Cook County, said they would not join the rest of Illinois in increasing eligibility, citing the low supply of vaccines for those who already qualify.
The United Center is one of 18 “federally established community immunization centers” across the country that the administration of President Joe Biden highlighted on Friday as recently opened or inaugurated in the coming weeks, which will be able to administer a combined 61,000 injections per day in full capacity.
Those sites, including the United Center, were selected based on a variety of criteria, including the “Social Vulnerability Index” from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
That index helps officials “identify and map the communities likely to need support before, during and after a hazardous event” by taking into account “critical data points, including socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status. , languages, type of housing and transportation, “the White House said.
Chicago and Cook County were identified as having a “significantly underserved and medically underserved population,” the White House said, adding that the United Center is located in a “central and accessible” area with nearby public transportation. and high walkability.
“The site will serve 2.9 million people living within a 30-minute drive time,” the White House said, noting that 22,000 people live within a one-mile walk of the sand.
“The United Center is one of the best places to vaccinate large numbers of people in America – it’s easily accessible, it’s in the middle of a medically underserved community, it can handle large crowds, and it’s well known to everyone in Illinois.” , Pritzker said in a statement last week.
“I am deeply grateful to the Biden-Harris management for working closely with us to bring this high-capacity site together, and I am particularly proud that we have worked together to prioritize seniors in this process, getting much closer to ending to this pandemic, “he continued.