United Center COVID-19 vaccination signup period starts Thursday for seniors
With the state set to receive more than 83,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine this week, people 65 or older will be able to register for appointments at a new mass vaccination site launching outside the United Center.
Senior citizens can start signing up Thursday morning for appointments at a new COVID-19 mass vaccination site poised to launch next week outside the United Center.
People 65 or older will get first dibs on more than 110,000 appointments that will open up online and by phone at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday.
The actual shots for those appointments won’t begin until next week.
Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago.
If any slots are still available by 4 p.m. Sunday, they’ll be open to other people eligible for shots under the state’s expanded Phase 1B pool of recipients, which includes residents 16 and older with chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
“We have a quarter million seniors who have yet to get their first dose,” Lightfoot said. “In order for us to truly rise above this terrible pandemic, we must get our seniors vaccinated as fast as humanly possible.”
Residents will be able to sign up at zocdoc.com/vaccine, or at (312) 746-4835. Call centers will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. With the huge demand for appointments, officials urge people to use the online signup if possible.
The first shots will go into arms at the United Center site next Tuesday, a day earlier than officials announced last week. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will administer about 6,000 doses per day in tents set up in the parking lot northeast of the stadium. It’ll be a combination of walk-up and drive-thru services.
The Pfizer vaccine will be doled out in the first wave of appointments, which span the month of March, according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. The site is currently slated to operate for eight weeks.
“Still, we don’t have enough vaccine for everybody who wants it, but every day that calculus is improving,” Arwady said, calling the United Center plan “a major improvement in terms of our ability to get vaccine first to seniors.”
Fifteen other mass vaccination sites are already operating across the state, and they’ll see their supply boosted by Wednesday as more than 100,000 doses of the new one-and-done Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine are expected to arrive. That includes about 22,300 doses being sent to Chicago, according to the CDC.
Those shots of the freshly authorized vaccine come on top of the 288,000 Pfizer and Moderna doses the federal government is sending to Illinois this week, officials said. Even more are earmarked for the city, which receives its vaccine shipments separately from the rest of the state.
The third vaccine to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA, Johnson & Johnson’s formula is viewed as a logistical upgrade from the previous ones because it only requires one shot and doesn’t require super-cold storage.
In clinical trials, it was found to be 66% effective in preventing people from contracting the disease, compared to the 95% effective two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
But Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike noted that like the earlier vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson doses are “100% effective in protecting recipients against death and hospitalization.”
“The new Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed for use at mass vaccination sites across the state, so that we are maximizing their capacity and getting as many eligible Illinoisans vaccinated as possible so that we can win the race against the new virus variants and end this pandemic,” Ezike said in a statement.
The latest vaccine comes as infection numbers sink near all-time lows across Illinois.
The state reported 1,577 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among 56,181 tests, keeping Illinois’ rolling seven-day average positivity rate at 2.4%. It hasn’t been lower since last June.
The virus also claimed 47 more lives, including those of two Cook County teenagers.
Daily COVID-19 case and death counts have shrunk almost by half on average over the past month.
Meanwhile, the state’s rolling average of shots administered per day is up to a new high of 80,416. A total of 61,061 doses were administered Monday.
More than 2.8 million shots have gone into arms over the past two and a half months, but only 866,132 people have gotten both required shots. That’s 6.8% of the population.
About 1.2 million Illinoisans have been infected over the past year, and 20,583 have died.
Contributing: Fran Spielman