United Center mass vaccination site no longer accepting suburban registrations; will reopen registration in coming days

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Daily file illustration by Catherine Buchaniec

Recently operational United Center mass vaccination site has temporarily stopped accepting appointments from suburban Cook County residents.

Andrew Myers, Reporter

Evanston residents who have already scheduled inoculations at the FEMA-sponsored United Center mass vaccination site, which opens Tuesday, can keep their appointments — but the site is no longer accepting new registrations from suburban Cook County residents, Mayor Steve Hagerty announced in a Monday press release

The United Center site will serve people ages 65 and older, essential workers, and people with pre-existing conditions as defined by the state’s Phase 1B guidelines. 

Initial plans called for the site to serve the entire Illinois population. But in an attempt to ensure more Chicagoans registered for appointments, only Chicago residents can now make new registrations for appointments at the site.

Evanston residents eligible under Phase 1B will have to wait to register until the United Center reopens its appointment site to suburban Cook County residents in the coming days. NBC Chicago reported that Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said although they are not publicly available, a “significant number of appointments” are being reserved for suburban residents.

Cook County government officials are expected to provide updates on when and how suburban Cook County will get vaccinated at a press conference on Tuesday. Updates will be also posted to the county’s vaccine website.

The United Center only began accepting appointments from Illinois residents 65 and older last Thursday to fill its more than 100,000 available slots. Registration was supposed to include  all Phase 1B eligible Illinois residents on Sunday. 

But Gov. J.B. Pritzker, in consultation with FEMA, made last minute changes Sunday to who could register for appointments after they determined not enough Chicago citizens were signing up for appointments. Pritzker’s office reported that early data showed only 40 percent of the appointments had been filled by Chicago residents. 

The United Center is expected to vaccinate 6,000 people a day. Illinois has already administered 3.3 million doses and has been steadily increasing its distribution to nearly 100,000 vaccines a day across the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has projected Evanston will receive 1,200, 1,400 and 1,200 first doses of vaccines each of the next three weeks, respectively. Hagerty said in his Monday newsletter this quantity is inadequate.

“Between the City and our healthcare institutions, we have the capacity to vaccinate at least 10,000 people a week in Evanston — if we have the vaccines,” Hagerty wrote. “We are dealing with a supply issue, not a capacity issue.”

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