UPDATE: Tuesday, March 2, 2021 — Today, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced that registration for seniors to be vaccinated at the United Center will open on Thursday, March 4 at 8:30 a.m. Officials say more than 100,000 appointments will be available at the location this month. 

On Sunday, March 7 at 4:00 p.m., Illinois residents who fall within the state’s 1B+ vaccination phase will be able to sign-up for any unfilled appointments at the United Center. 

To register for appointments, you can visit zocdoc.com/vaccine or call 312-746-4835.

“Vaccinating our seniors as fast as possible is core to our ability to rise above this pandemic as a City and as a state,” Lightfoot said in a press release. “This new United Center site will significantly increase our capacity to vaccinate vulnerable Illinoisans and further ensure equitable access to the vaccine.”

Read the full story below.

UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 — The United Center will become a mass vaccination site, prioritizing seniors and equity for hardest hit communities, beginning March 10.

Today, Gov. J.B. Pritzker made the announcement alongside federal and local officials, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and representatives from FEMA. 

In the coming days, officials will announce the sign-up process for United Center vaccinations. The process will include an exclusive early-access period for seniors to sign up ahead of the site opening on March 10. Any remaining spots will be available to folks that are eligible to receive the vaccine. Vaccinations will be available by appointment only.

On Feb. 19, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Colin Boyle // Block Club Chicago

Pritzker and others who spoke at the press conference gave their thanks to the new Biden-Harris administration, saying this new mass vaccination site wouldn’t be possible without their dedication to vaccinate Americans.

“This, folks, is what presidential leadership looks like,” Lightfoot said.

President Joe Biden is opening up pilot Community Vaccination Centers nationwide, and the United Center site falls under this new plan. The site will have the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 people daily.

The federal government will provide the COVID-19 vaccine doses at the United Center. According to FEMA, the vaccine doses administered at the United Center will not be taken out of the state, county or city’s COVID-19 vaccine supply. 

One FEMA representative who spoke at the press conference said the vaccinations will take place outside the United Center in parking lot E, which is north of the stadium where the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks are currently playing games for their 2020-2021 seasons. Tents will be set up in the parking lot, and the plan is to have the location open for vaccinations between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. 

Illinois is currently in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout. This means Chicagoans age 65+ and specific groups of highest-risk and front-line essential workers are now eligible for COVID-19 shots.

Earlier this week, Pritzker expanded vaccine eligibility in Illinois to 1B+, which includes people with underlying health conditions 16 years and older. This new expansion of phase 1B+ is not yet available in Chicago because there is a limited supply of vaccines that the city is receiving.

Graphic by the city of Chicago

On Thursday, the TRiiBE reached out to the city of Chicago for more details. 

“We have only been able to vaccinate a small percentage of the people in phases 1A and 1B. While we are making progress every day with these groups, at this time we are not being supplied the doses that would allow us to expand those eligible in these phases,” a city spokesperson wrote via email. “Doing so in Chicago would add hundreds of thousands of additional people to 1B, and the result would be that those currently eligible, including seniors, frontline essential workers and those in our most heavily COVID-burdened communities, would have an even harder time getting a vaccine.”

At this time, Chicago is seeing its lowest positivity rate, 3 percent, since the start of the pandemic, according to the city’s coronavirus dashboard. Last week, the positivity rate was 3.5 percent.

Statewide, health officials today announced 2,441 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 1,183,667 cases, including 20,460 deaths.

At a press conference last week,  Lightfoot announced that 50% of the first doses of COVID vaccine went to Black and Latinx Chicagoans last week, according to data from the city. That is more than three times the previous rate in the early days of the vaccine roll-out began, she said. At that time, only 18% of the COVID vaccines were going to Black or Latinx Chicagoans.

How and where can you sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Illinois is partnering with several retailers in Illinois and Chicago, such as Jewel Osco, Walgreens, Mariano’s, Walmart, Chicago Costco Pharmacies (Chicago IL Medical District),  to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. You can search for a nearby pharmacy by clicking on the hyperlink and  plugging in your zip code. 

Once there, you can sign up for an appointment if you are eligible in Phase 1B. You must set an appointment to receive the vaccine. You may also reach out to your employer, healthcare provider or insurance provider, or Zocdoc to determine where you can receive the vaccine. 

State and local public health departments and hospitals such as the Illinois Department of Public Healththe Cook County Department of Public Health (Community Vaccination Program), Chicago Department of Public Health, and University of Illinois-Health, are great resources to find out more about where we are currently in the vaccine rollout plan and how you can sign up to receive the vaccine, eligibility requirements and more.

Which group is being offered the vaccine now?

Currently, Chicago is in Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout. We entered into this new phase on Jan. 25. Certain groups of people were prioritized based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and are eligible to receive the vaccine. For example, folks in group 1A consisted of long-term care facility residents and staff. 

Phase 1B includes:

* Chicagoans age 65 and older, Correctional workers, and first responders

* Grocery store workers and manufacturing/factory settings with outbreaks

* Daycare, K-12, and early education workers

* Public transit, other manufacturing, and agriculture workers

* Continuity of government and postal workers

* Caregivers of medically fragile children or adults

* Chicagoans age 75 and older

* Chicagoans age 65-74 with underlying medical conditions

* All Chicagoans age 65 and older

* Homeless shelters

* Correctional settings

* Other residential settings with local outbreaks

Gov. Pritzker expanded the criteria for Phase 1B. Starting on Feb. 25, people under 65 with underlying conditions will be eligible to receive the vaccine. The city of Chicago anticipates having those eligible in this group be vaccinated this month and in March. 

“As quickly as we receive enough vaccine supply, we need to waste no time in protecting a broader section of our most vulnerable population,” Pritzker said in a Feb. 10 written statement. “Those who are under 65 and live with comorbidities, such as cancer survivors or those living with heart disease, have an elevated risk of serious complications or death if they contract COVID-19. Illinois is moving forward in accordance with guidance from the CDC to expand our eligible population as supply allows, getting us closer to the point when the vaccine is widely available to all who want it.”

How many shots are there?

So, there is more demand than supply, but the federal government is working on providing more vaccine doses. According to Pritzker’s announcement on Feb. 10, President Joe Biden has increased the vaccine supply to nearly 30 percent (which included a 5 percent increase last week). More than two million doses of the vaccine were delivered to Illinois, which includes Chicago, according to an ABC 7 news report. 

In a Feb. 11 joint statement, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said they hope to get as many people as they can to be vaccinated but do not yet have enough doses to expand eligibility for each phase.

“Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. That said, our greatest challenge in doing so is the very limited supply of vaccine we are receiving,” they said in the joint statement. “While we are making progress every day with vaccinating people in 1a and 1b, at this time we are not being supplied with enough doses that would allow us to expand eligibility in these phases.”

Illinois has 15 state-supported mass vaccination sites already open across the state. These sites are currently open to any eligible resident via appointment:

* Now open: North Riverside Health Center (1800 S. Harlem Avenue, North Riverside IL); 270 daily doses available

* Now open: Morton East School Base Clinic (2423 S. Austin Blvd, Cicero IL); 270 daily doses available

* Now open: Robbins Health Center (13450 S. Kedzie Ave., Robbins IL); 135 daily doses available

* Now open: Cottage Grove Health Center (1645 Cottage Grove Ave., Ford Heights IL); 135 daily doses available

* Now open: Blue Island Health Center (12757 S. Western Ave., Blue Island IL); 270 daily doses available

* Now open: Arlington Heights Health Center (3250 N. Arlington Heights Rd. Arlington Heights IL); 270 daily doses available 

* Now open: Triton College (2000 5th Ave., River Grove IL); 540 daily doses available

* Now open: South Suburban College (15800 State St., South Holland IL); 540 daily doses available 

* Now open: Orr Building (Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield IL); 1620 daily doses available

* Now open: Belle-Clair Fairgrounds (200 S. Belt E #2650, Belleville IL); 1080 daily doses available 

* Now open: Banterra Center (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale IL); 540 daily doses available 

* Now open: Carbondale Civic Center (Carbondale IL); 540 daily doses available

* Now open: Winnebago County (1321 Sandy Hollow Rd., Rockford IL); 1350 daily doses available

* Now open: Gateway Convention Center (1 Gateway Drive., Collinsville IL); 1350 daily doses available 

* Now open: Tinley Park (18451 Convention Center Dr.); 2160 daily doses available

* Opening March 10: United Center (1901 W. Madison, Chicago); 6000 daily doses available 



is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.