On Monday, April 12, all residents 16 and older will be eligible to get a vaccine in Illinois. However, 16 and 17-year-olds must get the Pfizer vaccine only.
While the state's expansion comes a week before President Joe Biden's announcement for expansion for all adults in the country, Chicago will wait until April 19, the date the president hopes all states can meet for expansion. However, Chicago residents are eligible to get vaccinated at suburban sites.
The state expects demand to increase with expanded eligibility and asks for patience, even as the state reports an average of 100,000 shots per day. The state also pointed to issues with Johnson & Johnson supply as another reason for patience.
"We try to push our partners to get every dose out the door, and to make sure that we're doing as many vaccinations as possible," Gov. JB Pritzker said.
"But it is important that we begin to address the whole population, because the danger of the new variants, spreading means that we want every dose to get into arms as soon as humanly possible," Governor Pritzker said. "The vaccine is the best weapon against the variants and it's the fastest to get back to normal life."
With the expansion, the governor said 150,000 additional vaccine appointments would be made available at 11 state-run sites in Cook County and the collar counties. That is in addition to doses being given at local hospitals and pharmacies.
"Even with all of these new appointments, there will not be enough vaccine in week one to get everyone that wants to be vaccinated a dose But vaccine doses will be arriving more quickly than ever before and the public health system is doing everything in its power to get these vaccines in the arms of our residents as quickly as the federal government can deliver them," the governor said.
Pritzker said a quarter million doses would be coming to Cook County and the collar counties next week alone. He added that as of Thursday there are more than 1,000 vaccination locations in Illinois, including 20 National Guard operations as well as at Costco, CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Jewel-Osco, Mariano's and more.
But with 15 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine being destroyed due to contamination, the supply to Illinois, which this week was more than 148,000, will plummet to only 17,600 next week.
The governor did not seem overly concerned, and his office said the state has about 2 million vaccination doses on reserve, though some are already allocated.
"Yes, 15 million doses being lost is a big deal, but at the same time, millions more doses are being added every week to what's being distributed to the state of Illinois and to the rest of the country, so I feel good about the trajectory here," Pritzker said.
Chicago is also impacted, and the city's top doctor said that low allocation could continue for three weeks.
"We knew that it was probably going to fall off, so we held a little bit of Johnson & Johnson to be able to cover Chicago State University of the union sites," said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Logistics expert Hani Mahmassani, director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center, said now is the time to utilize all of it, as millions more people are set to become eligible around the state Monday.
"Unless we expand that number significantly, we're going to have a period of frustration," he said.
The additional doses for the Chicago area will go to state-supported sites outside the city, but the governor said Chicago residents, if they can make it to the suburbs, are eligible for those appointments.
Meanwhile, an uptick in COVID cases in Cook County has concerns about the third surge top of mind, and the county raising the prospects of re-imposing restrictions.
"But if we have trends in the wrong direction will not hesitate to tighten restrictions on gatherings indoors or outdoors," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "Our future rests upon the decisions made in this critical moment."
United Center to switch to Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting April 20
The United Center mass vaccination site will switch to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine soon, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The mayor's office announced that all walk-in appointments starting April 20 will get J&J.
The Chicago Department of Public Health reported a high demand from residents for the single-dose shot.
Anyone seeking an appointment can check availability starting April 12 via Zocdoc, or by calling the city's COVID Help Line at (312)-746-4835. Appointments are expected to be in high demand and people are encouraged to check back frequently, according to officials.
The United Center drive-thru will continue to administer second doses of Pfizer for people who already received their first dose at the mass vaccination site since it opened in early March, according to the announcement.
Chicago will move into Phase 2 of vaccine eligibility on April 19, which means everyone age 16 or older will eligible to receive a vaccine. However, officials added that you must be at least 18 to receive a shot at a city-run site, including the United Center.
Starting Monday, appointments for people eligible in Phase 2 will begin to be posted to Zocdoc and said new appointments will be added throughout the week.
Vaccination appointments on Zocdoc are only available for City of Chicago residents, and City vaccination sites cannot vaccinate minors, officials made clear.
Cook County Health also released 15,000 COVID vaccine appointments at noon Friday for the week of April 12.
It was the first release of appointments under the eligibility expansion that includes individuals 16 years and older and includes appointments for all three authorized vaccines - Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson - at the following Cook County mass vaccination sites.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently approved for 16 and 17-year-olds. As such, it is important for these individuals to schedule at a Pfizer site. A parent or guardian must accompany these individuals to their appointment. All vaccinations are by appointment only.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status. You cannot be denied a vaccine if you do not have insurance.
For the latest information on Chicago's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and current eligibility, visit chicago.gov/covidvax.
Appointments can be made at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or by calling 833-308-1988, Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. The call center will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.