The Daily’s COVID-19 vaccination guide: what you need to know and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine

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Daily file illustration by Hank Yang

Faculty, staff and students across Northwestern are starting to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Nick Francis and Angeli Mittal

This guide was last updated April 2, 2021. The Daily has compiled information to make the guide as comprehensive as possible, but cannot guarantee it is fully exhaustive.

As COVID-19 vaccine production ramps up and eligibility expands, many people around the state have had difficulty securing vaccination appointments. Some have spent hours searching for open slots. As a result, The Daily has compiled information in an attempt to demystify the process and provide residents with clear information regarding the vaccine rollout.

Who is eligible?

Evanston residents in Phase 1B+ are eligible for the vaccine. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, this includes residents 16 and older with disabilities or underlying conditions including cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart conditions and obesity. IDPH and the city plan to make vaccines available for Phase 2 all persons 16 years and older on April 12.

To see which category you fall into, follow this link. Chicago and Cook County use slightly different category names from the state and Evanston.

As of March 29, graduate students who currently serve as teaching or research assistants are also eligible for vaccination according to the State of Illinois and the Chicago Public Health Department

How can people find open vaccination appointments? Where can people get vaccinated? 

Evanston — Residents should fill out the city’s Vaccine Interest Form. The city will notify you when you are eligible for a vaccine and send a personalized signup link. An email indicating your eligibility will look like this. Otherwise, residents can search for appointments at a variety of other vaccination sites.

Cook County — Evanston residents can sign up for Cook County vaccination sites at the Community Vaccination Program. The site will ask for your name, contact information, work category and any underlying medical conditions to determine eligibility. If you qualify, you can sign up for a vaccination appointment at available Cook County sites, and the link will also lead to to sign up links for retail providers. An individual list of retail providers can be found below.

Retail providers — As a part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, a partnership between federal and state governments and pharmacies across the US, many national and independent pharmacies are providing vaccinations to the public. 

Depending on pharmacies’ individual policies, appointments may be restricted based on location or existing patient status. Make sure to check each site’s eligibility requirements before you attempt to book an appointment.

To sign up for appointments at individual providers, follow these links:
Hy-Vee
Albertsons Companies (including Jewel-Osco)
CVS
Kroger
Mariano’s
Meijer
Walgreens
Walmart
Chicago Costco Pharmacies (Lincoln Park)
Chicago Costco Pharmacies (Chicago IL Medical District)

Northwestern — According to a March 25 email from Chief Risk and Compliance Officer and Senior Associate Vice President Luke Figora, most community members will not receive their vaccine from University-affiliated points of distribution. However, NU will contact eligible individuals when they can be vaccinated by the University clinic.

Other resources

Evanston resident Eli Coustan created ILVaccine to help people find open vaccination appointments throughout Illinois. The site searches for open slots and volunteers update the site regularly. Coustan said the website monitors over 500 locations, though Illinois has close to 900. His team is searching for more locations to add every day, most recently adding 175 Jewel-Osco sites Wednesday. 

Through the site, Illinois residents can search for open appointments by county. Once they find a slot, they must register with the health care provider. Some providers require users to create an account before they can secure an appointment. Others may not be listed on ILVaccine, and those wishing to find appointments can always look at each individual site. 

Other online resources include Find a Shot, VaxVolunteers, GetMyVaccine and Vaccine Finder. Residents can also use online groups such as the Chicago Vaccine Hunters Facebook group.

Which vaccine should I get?

Whether you receive the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, the most important thing is to get vaccinated, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told the American Medical Association.

To achieve national herd immunity, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci estimates 70 to 90 percent of the country’s population must be vaccinated.

IDPH says any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides immunity against the virus. Director of Health and Human Services Ike Ogbo acknowledged the differing efficacy rates of the vaccines in a February 4 Coronavirus Q&A hosted by the city but warned of the consequences of being selective.

“At this time, no one really has a choice as to what vaccine they are receiving,” Ogbo said. “If people want to opt out of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we understand that, but they also have to keep in mind that if they opt out and we don’t have any other vaccines to administer, it might take weeks and weeks before they get vaccinated.”

Email:, [email protected], [email protected]

Twitter: @amittal27, @nick24francis

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