As United Center vaccination site closes, city pushes local, mobile sites and in-home program

The Chicago Department of Public Health will close the United Center’s mass vaccination site at 6 p.m. Thursday, but shots are still readily available to residents.

SHARE As United Center vaccination site closes, city pushes local, mobile sites and in-home program
United Center vaccination site on Thursday, June 24, 2021, the last day of drive-thru operations.

United Center vaccination site on the last day of drive-thru operations. Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The Chicago Department of Public Health was set to close the United Center’s mass vaccination site at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The city’s agreement for the arena to be a vaccination site ended June 24 and will get fans back in the stands to support their favorite teams, artists and entertainers by July 1, said Chris Shields, an assistant commissioner for the public health department and a point person at the United Center’s vaccination site.

Christopher Shields, Assistant Commissioner of the Chicago Bureau of Health Protection with the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaks at a press conference about the closure of the United Center vaccination site on the last day of drive-thru operations. Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Christopher Shields, assistant commissioner with the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaks at a press conference about the closure of the United Center vaccination site on the last day of drive-thru operations. Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

“Looking back now, the last four months of my life has been here,” Shields said outside the United Center site. “It’s sad, but I’m not going to weep ... It’s almost like we had a little family here (of) 528 siblings.”

Since February, 302,000 vaccine doses has been administered, with about 245,000 through walk-ins and just over 56,000 by drive-thru. The highest rate of vaccine doses administered was 6,400 in a 10-hour time frame. In the last week, though, vaccine doses have ranged from just 300 to 500 shots a day.

At this point, the United Center is one of Chicago’s last mass vaccination sites. Kennedy King College, Richard J. Daley College and Wilbur Wright College will continue to offer first doses of the two-shot Pfizer vaccine through Saturday, July 3 before officially closing on Saturday, July 24.

Earlier this week, city officials announced the expansion of the city’s in-home vaccination program, which previously was offered only to older residents and those with disabilities.

Now, anyone with a Chicago address can go to chicago.gov/athome or call (312) 746-4835 to set up a shot in their home - and they’ll get a $50 GrubHub gift card.

Up to 10 people can be vaccinated in a single household visit, with their choice of the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second stop.

About 48% of Chicagoans have been fully vaccinated. That leaves over half of Chicago still needing either their second dose or their one and only shot.

At the United Center, 45 percent of Chicagoans vaccinated were Black or Latinx, according to a city press release. “By prioritizing zip codes with the highest rate of COVID-19, we saw communities like Pilsen go from some of the lowest vaccinated rates to the highest.”

Shields urged residents to get vaccinated as the Delta variant of the coronavirus appears to be more aggressive and fast-spreading than its predecessors.

The nearby Malcolm X College, a continuation site for those who’ve received their first dose of the vaccination at the United Center, will open Monday. The site will be open from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Pfizer doses will be available there. Malcolm X will likely be going offline toward the end of July.

Anyone 12 and older can make an appointment to get vaccinated in their home by calling (312) 746-4835 or going to www.chicago.gov/athome.

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