Chicago Aims To Start Vaccinating The General Public Against COVID-19 By June

A COVID-19 vaccination appointments sign
A COVID-19 vaccination appointments sign points the way at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. The city of Chicago hopes to start vaccinating the general public by June 2021. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
A COVID-19 vaccination appointments sign
A COVID-19 vaccination appointments sign points the way at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. The city of Chicago hopes to start vaccinating the general public by June 2021. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Chicago Aims To Start Vaccinating The General Public Against COVID-19 By June

Chicago is hoping to start vaccinating the general population against COVID-19 by June.

The city’s Department of Public Health today published a distribution plan with tentative dates for when coronavirus vaccines will be available to the next priority groups. The hope is to open up vaccine eligibility to all Chicagoans by May 29.

This coming Monday, Jan. 25, the entire state of Illinois will start allowing people over the age of 65 and certain frontline essential workers to be vaccinated. That group includes 3.2 million people across Illinois.

Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city estimates it will take at least February and March to get through that next priority group, often referred to as 1b.

“I know how excited people are to get a vaccine and I love that,” Arwady said. “This is going to be a little bit of a balancing act. And there is just not going to be enough vaccine available for everybody,”

Arwady said Chicagoans aged 65 and older should contact their doctor about getting vaccinated. Workers will likely get offered a chance to be vaccinated through their employers. The city plans to pair employers, like grocery store chains, with hospitals, clinics or pharmacies who can schedule employees for vaccines. City agencies, like the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Transit Authority, will also have specific vaccination rollout plans, but those details have not been finalized yet.

Then, on March 29, the city hopes to open up vaccines to anyone over 16 with an underlying health condition and remaining workers labeled “essential” at the start of the pandemic.

The city does not have a vaccine registration form, but officials are directing residents to ChiCOVIDCoach, where people can fill out their contact information and ask to get vaccine updates.

That’s largely due to supply. The city has only gotten enough doses from Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate 225,000 people, which is not enough for the first priority group of health care workers and nursing home residents and staff.

“I want to make sure that there are appointments available for people to sign up for before I open up a system for signing up for appointments,” Arwady said.

Other counties around the region are allowing residents to sign up to be notified when it’s their turn to get vaccinated. Suburban Cook, Lake and Will County residents are able to register online. Kane, DuPage and McHenry County residents can sign up for vaccine updates and information.

Becky Vevea covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @beckyvevea.