As Chicago Expands Eligibility Monday, All In Illinois Will Qualify For A COVID-19 Shot

A woman administers Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
A woman fills a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to emergency medical workers and healthcare personnel. Matt Slocum / Associated Press
A woman administers Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
A woman fills a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to emergency medical workers and healthcare personnel. Matt Slocum / Associated Press

As Chicago Expands Eligibility Monday, All In Illinois Will Qualify For A COVID-19 Shot

Starting Monday, everybody age 16 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine in Illinois and Chicago.

Chicago’s expansion of eligibility will put it in step with the state and the rest of the country, which is moving to universal eligibility at the direction of President Joseph R. Biden.

The race to vaccinate more people, more quickly, comes as coronavirus cases continue to climb again, creating a fourth wave nationally in the pandemic that has disrupted everyday life for more than a year.

Here’s what you need to know about the next phase of vaccine rollout.

How many Illinoisans still need to be vaccinated?

So far, more than 4.5 million people have gotten at least partially vaccinated in Illinois. That leaves about 5.5 million adults yet to get any vaccine. This does not include children. It could include people who were eligible already, but either haven’t been able to find an appointment or don’t want one.

The state’s pace of vaccination has picked up since the early days of the rollout. Illinois is about the middle of the pack when looking at all states across the country. Chicago still lags the rest of the state. But that has also improved over time.

Are there enough vaccines for everybody now?

No. Especially not if everyone wants one immediately. In early April, the number of doses shipping to Illinois and Chicago increased from about 350,000 new first doses weekly to more than 500,000. But that number dropped back below 400,000 in recent weeks as the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine faced manufacturing issues.

Then, federal regulators recommended on April 13 pausing the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine after six women developed a rare kind of blood clotting condition.

State and local officials have said they can reallocate doses of the other two authorized vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna to keep up with the appointments currently scheduled. But now the supply of vaccines won’t ramp up as quickly with J&J on pause.

At the current rate, it could take more than two months to offer a vaccine to all the 5.5 million unvaccinated adults. There remains a percentage of people who have said, according to studies and surveys, they do not want to get vaccinated.

If I do want a COVID-19 appointment, where do I find one?

Think about where you’ve gotten a flu shot: your doctor’s office, a local pharmacy, a walk-in clinic. Those same locations are likely administering COVID-19 vaccines. There are also several temporary vaccination sites, including some very large venues, such as the United Center, Chicago State University and Wrigley Field.

WBEZ created a detailed guide of where and how to find a vaccine, with links to help you book appointments. Keep an eye on Zocdoc, too. Available appointments are released often. The doctor advocacy group IMPACT also has a regularly updated list of vaccine locations in the Chicago area.

Here’s a list of state-run vaccination sites. You can also sign up over the phone by calling the Cook County vaccine hotline at 833-308-1988 or the state’s vaccine sign-up line at 833-621-1284.

The group Chicago Vaccine Hunters has a crowd-sourced approach to monitoring vaccine availability. And another group, Chicago Vaccine Angels, will help you if you’re struggling. Email them at ChicagoVaccineAngels@gmail.com.

One last reminder to be patient. These routes still might get booked quickly in the coming days and weeks.

Becky Vevea covers city politics and COVID-19 vaccines for WBEZ. Follow her @beckyvevea.