Chicago COVID-19: City moves into vaccine Phase 1B next week, Arwady says

How to get COVID vaccine in Illinois: Gov. Pritzker expected to give Friday update
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's top doctor, Dr. Allison Arwady, received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and gave an update on the city's vaccination progress Thursday morning.

Arwady said the city is still on schedule to move into Phase 1B of its vaccine rollout Monday, with 34,000 more doses coming. The phase includes specific frontline workers and those 65 and older.

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Chicago is moving into Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout Monday, Dr. Allison Arwady said.

However, Arwady advised people in Phase 1B to be patient, because there is simply not enough vaccine.

"The amount of vaccine we are getting right now will allow us to vaccinate 5%; one in 20 of the people who are eligible," she warned.

Arwady said if you're in your 60s with no underlying health conditions, it could take weeks to receive the vaccine. All vaccinations will be done by appointment only, and most in Phase 1B will be vaccinated through their own healthcare provider. That's a challenge in and of itself for doctors in small practices.

"With patients who continue to call, what we've been doing is letting them know our practice itself does not plan to individually provide the vaccine, but we will work with hospitals to coordinate the services for all our patients," said Dr. Clement Rose.

NorthShore University HealthSystem doctors say they've been receiving a high volume of calls from people looking to get vaccinated. They are emailing patients 65 and older to let them know appointments will be available.

"We're going to be able to release a set of appointments that will be based on the amount of vaccine that we've received,' said Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani, chief medical officer.

Another way to get vaccinated will be through more than 100 pharmacy locations around the city. But that has caused some confusion, with people signing up for vaccine appointments that either don't exist or are not yet available to them.

Walgreens clarified its vaccine distribution effort, releasing a statement saying:

We recently discovered some individuals who qualify for vaccines in Phase 1B, scheduled to begin next week, had signed up for a vaccine appointment ahead of the scheduled start date. Illinois and Chicago remain in Phase 1A, and select locations continue to provide vaccines to eligible health care workers by appointment. We are contacting individuals scheduled to receive vaccines this week in order confirm their current vaccine eligibility based on state and local requirements.

Furthermore, we are in the process of strengthening our appointment scheduler to ensure eligibility requirements are clear to our customers. We are committed to ensure patients understand state and local requirements to prioritize the vaccine distribution efforts in a fair and equitable manner. We apologize for the inconvenience and we will be following up with individuals to reschedule their appointments beginning next week when Phase 1B is implemented across the state.

The third option will be dedicated vaccination sites built for large-scale dispensing. Finally, some people will be able to get vaccinated through their employer. The city is already working on getting police and firefighters vaccinated; teachers will have to wait until February.

"We will be working with our private, parochial and public schools to bring vaccinations, through employment settings to those schools," Arwady said.

But details on dedicated vaccination sites and how to sign up for a vaccine at a pharmacy will come from the city at a later date. Registration is not yet open.

The city also began giving some leftover vaccines to more high-risk individuals, Arwady said, but she again stressed supply is limited.

So far 100,000 Chicagoans have been vaccinated, but there is a long way to go.

Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to speak Friday, as some are frustrated with the lack of information about how to register for a vaccine.

The city of Chicago has set tentative dates for each phase of its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan.

Phase 1A

Chicago is currently in Phase 1A of the plan, with healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff eligible to get vaccinated.

Phase 1B

Phase 1B is set to begin on Monday, with Chicagoans over 65, non-health care residential settings, including homeless shelters and frontline essential workers. Frontline essential workers include grocery store workers, manufacturing, daycare, K-12 and early education workers, public transit, agricultural workers, continuity of government and postal workers.

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The city expects most people in Phase 1B to get vaccinated in February and March.

Phase IC

Phase 1C is tentatively scheduled to begin on March 29 for Chicagoans ages 16-64 with underlying medical conditions and all other essential workers.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is tentatively scheduled for May 31, which would include everyone over the age of 16 not previously recommended to be vaccinated. But, there is a caveat.

"I want to make very clear that date is totally dependent on how much vaccine we get, what changes we see from the federal government," said Arwady, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "I just want to set the expectation that the amount of vaccine that we're receiving is minuscule compared to what I expect the demand to be."

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Starting Monday, Chicago will move into Phase 1B, during which many frontline workers as well as residents 65 and older will be able to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are not currently authorized for younger children. The city said they will be added when a vaccine is approved for children.

Officials are asking providers to prioritize within each group. In the 65 and older category, Arwady said those 75 and older should be at the top of the list, followed by those 65 to 74 with underlying conditions, and then the rest of that of group.

"Say you're a healthy 65-year-old, frankly I would appreciate it if you maybe are willing to wait a few weeks," Dr. Arwady said.

For more information on Chicago's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, visit

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With Chicago's metrics falling, the city moved to Tier 2 mitigations on Monday, allowing businesses such as casinos, bowling alleys, museums and movie theatres to reopen. That opening, however, is expected to take place over several days and weeks.

"We'll definitely be losing money you know," said Chris Johnson, owner of Classic Cinemas. "In the first half of the year, your ramping up, you're building an audience and getting people acclimated to going out again."

Officials said the city could come down to Tier 1 as early as this weekend, allowing limited indoor dining to resume as soon as next week.

"We've got to remain diligent, but I'm optimistic that we'll see indoor dining in restaurants relatively soon," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
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