Chicago COVID-19: Phase 1C could be delayed due to vaccine scarcity, city's top doc warns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many people continue to experience confusion and frustration as they try to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Now some are wondering if there are enough available vaccines to go around and if the next phase will be delayed.

We're only two weeks into Phase 1B, and for frontline workers and those 65 and older, getting an appointment is still incredibly difficult.

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In Chicago, 1 in 13 people have now received at least the first doses of the vaccine. But Chicago's public health director warned Tuesday they are still not getting enough doses to meet demand.

"If we don't get significantly more vaccine, like we're anticipating, it's possible we may have to push the date for 1C back, but at this point, we're going with the projections," Dr. Allison Arwady said.

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Chicago's public health director warned that Phase 1C vaccinations may not begin on March 29 because they are still not getting enough doses to meet demand.



Chicago's projected date for 1C, which would include additional categories of essential workers and those with pre-existing conditions, continues to be March 29. At the moment, however, the city is receiving only 42,000 doses a week.

Dr. Arwady said some have tried to help others jump the line by passing the QR code for their second dose appointment to a family member or friend.

"And then we get people coming in, trying to take up our second dose slots to get their first dose," she said. "So, we have ways to track that. We've been able to tell people, sorry, this is only for the second dose. We've got to hold it. But I can't emphasize enough: don't try to game the system."

Dr. Arwady told a City Council committee about attempts by non-residents to get vaccinated in Chicago. Her department is now discussing whether to require a piece of mail be brought to appointments. Some aldermen want safeguards.

"At the end of the day, we need to know what the scope of the issue is and how CDPH and other lead departments and officials in the city are crafting solutions," 47th Ward Ald. Matt Martin said.

Officials said they've completed plans for the use of Wrigley Field, the United Center and McCormick Place as mass vaccination sites. But right now, there's not enough vaccine.

"We only get 6,000 doses a day right now across all of Chicago, and so it doesn't make sense to put 5,000 of those in a mass vax site," Dr. Arwady said.

Over the weekend, some people living in suburban Cook County got text messages with registration numbers, advising them they are in Phase 1C. The health department cleared up what that all means.

"This is a legitimate message. It's not a scam," said Deb Song, with Cook County Health.

The text messages went out over the weekend from an unidentified number. Some wondered whether they were real or whether it was about to be their turn.

It's not. Cook County, like others across the state, continues to vaccinate those in Phases 1A and 1B.

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"We wanted to notify those who are in the category 1c that we are getting ready and when we are ready we will send another message to make your appointment," Song said.

In suburban Cook, as in the rest of the state, the biggest issue continues to be availability.

In Will County, vaccine delivery is also a concern, and even phone lines are overrun with those trying to make appointments.

"It's been sporadic," said Steve Brandy, spokesman for the Will County Health Department. "We might be told you're going to get a shipment sometime later this week, but we're not told what day, we're not sure how much, and sometimes something comes up and it goes somewhere else. So that's what we hope will change."
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