United Center COVID vaccine site appointments open Thursday, with more than 100K spots available

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With the mass vaccination site outside the United Center set to open one week from Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said people will be able to start signing up for appointments this Thursday.

A total of 110,000 appointments will be made available and the first appointments will open at 8:30 a.m. Thursday for seniors.

"This is an all call to seniors, their family members or anyone else in the seniors network and support system to get them signed up for these appointments, before they are taken," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

To register for an appointment, visit www.zocdoc.com/vaccine or call the multilingual hotline (312) 746-4835 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

"I really am hopeful that there is an allotment dedicated for slots via phone," said Courtney Hedderman, AARP Illinois Associate State Director. "That will make a huge difference for people."

After the signup period for seniors, anyone eligible for a vaccine as part of the Phase 1B+ group can begin scheduling appointments at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7.

The United Center will open for a limited number of appointments on March 9 before a full opening on March 10. The site will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Officials said only walk-up vaccinations will be offered initially, but there are plans to add a drive-through component. The city is working with aldermen and community groups to get people signed up and to their appointments.

"One of the reasons we really wanted to keep that appointment time open through Sunday was that offering if the appointments are not all filled by then, really thinking about that weekend time when religious groups may be gathering and encouraging them to also think about ways to help get their seniors signed up," said Dr. Allison Arwady.

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On Friday, 222 US Army soldiers will be arriving in Chicago to prepare for their mission of administering up to 6,000 doses a day. The UC will administer the Pfizer vaccine, so recipients must return three weeks later for a second dose.

The city said the new, one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be used this month to vaccinate airport and other transportation workers, as well as those in manufacturing and people who are homebound.

"Our goal is to get these highest risk individuals, in terms of hospitalizations and death, and these highest risk settings vaccinated," Dr. Arwady said.

Currently, there are still half a million seniors in Cook County who have not been vaccinated.

"In order for us to truly rise above this terrible pandemic, we must get our seniors vaccinated, as fast and as humanely as possible, no shortcuts there," Mayor Lightfoot said.

The mayor is encouraging those who are tech savvy and have access to computers to sign up on line and leave the phones for those who need to call for appointments.

Advocate Aurora Health confirmed it is partnering with the city on a potential mass vaccination site near Wrigley Field, but declined to share specific details.

While the United Center mass vaccination site is run by the federal government, this site would be run by Advocate.

STATEMENT FROM ADVOCATED AURORA HEALTH:
As a community health care leader, we are fiercely dedicated to doing everything we can to carry out the vaccination process as quickly, equitably and safely as possible.
We are proud to partner on a possible Wrigley Field mass vaccination site, which would potentially be authorized by the City of Chicago. If the site is designated, and City vaccine supplies become available, Advocate Aurora Health would provide clinical staffing and technical infrastructure.
This location is being considered because it is a convenient option for people who do not own cars, as it is easily accessible via the CTA. This is a part of our ongoing focus on partnership to ensure residents of disproportionately impacted communities have access to the vaccine as supplies are available.
We continue to believe that the vaccine is our best shot at bringing an end to this pandemic and we continue to use our current, very limited supplies for our most vulnerable patients over the age of 65.
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