Why can't I get an appointment? FAQ about getting vaccinated in the suburbs

  • COVID-19 vaccinations started in January at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake.

    COVID-19 vaccinations started in January at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Daily Herald report
Updated 3/3/2021 5:29 PM

It's been nearly three months since COVID-19 vaccine doses began arriving in Illinois, but getting an appointment for a shot hasn't gotten any easier for most eligible residents, and the process certainly hasn't become smoother, either.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the vaccination process.


Q. Why can't I get an appointment even though I'm eligible?

The main reason most people are having a hard time scheduling an appointment is there aren't enough vaccine doses in the state. There are more than 4 million people eligible for the vaccine in Illinois currently, which would require more than 8 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to immunize all of them. The state has received a little more than 3.8 million doses as of Wednesday. The recent approval and release of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine may expedite the backlog.

Q. Why aren't vaccine providers scheduling appointments weeks in advance?

When the vaccines first started coming to states in mid-December, the federal government soon reneged on promised doses. Fearing hundreds of people would show up for shots they couldn't get, state health officials urged vaccine providers to schedule appointments only for the doses they knew they'd have. States are receiving notice of shipments about three weeks in advance from federal officials.

Q. Why are larger segments of downstate counties vaccinated than in the suburbs?

Disbursement of vaccine doses throughout the state has not been proportional to the population of the counties. That has made it harder for suburban residents to get a shot. Many suburban counties border other states where workers who live in Indiana or Wisconsin, but work in the suburbs, are eligible to receive a vaccine here if they qualify. About 50,000 of Illinois' doses have gone into the arms of out-of-state workers, according to state health figures.

Q. What should I do to register for a vaccine appointment?

Everything you can. Sign up with your county health department first. Then go to every pharmacy site you can think of, including Walgreens, CVS, Jewel-Osco, Meijer, Mariano's and Walmart. Check with your primary care physician to find out how to register through their medical network. Also call your city, village or even township and ask if a vaccination clinic is being planned.

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