Why it will be harder for suburban residents to get vaccinated at United Center

  • State and federal authorities announced changes Sunday making it more difficult for some suburban residents -- and impossible for others -- to get an appointment for a shot at the United Center Federal Mass Vaccination Center opening later this week.

    State and federal authorities announced changes Sunday making it more difficult for some suburban residents -- and impossible for others -- to get an appointment for a shot at the United Center Federal Mass Vaccination Center opening later this week. Associated Press

  • Helen Baranowski of Roselle received a COVID-19 vaccination Friday from nurse Ashley Neal at the Cook County vaccination site in Des Plaines. State authorities say it's one of more than 3.3 million vaccine doses administered as of Saturday.

    Helen Baranowski of Roselle received a COVID-19 vaccination Friday from nurse Ashley Neal at the Cook County vaccination site in Des Plaines. State authorities say it's one of more than 3.3 million vaccine doses administered as of Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/8/2021 6:26 AM

State and federal authorities announced changes Sunday making it more difficult for some suburban residents -- and impossible for others -- to get an appointment for a shot at the United Center Federal Mass Vaccination Center opening later this week.

The announcement comes as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,068 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily total since July 21, when the state announced 955 cases.

 

However, daily case totals can fluctuate -- there were 2,565 new cases confirmed Saturday -- and Sundays often see lower figures than the rest of the week.

State health authorities also reported 14 additional deaths, the fewest since Sept. 27. Among the dead were five residents of Cook County and one each from Lake and Will counties.

The 98,550 doses of vaccine given Saturday raises the state's total to 3,358,214 doses, including 344,569 for long-term care facilities. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 93,183 doses, officials said.

For residents of the suburbs, getting a dose at the United Center mass vaccination facility became far more challenging as of 4 p.m. Sunday. That's when appointments for shots there made through Zocdoc became available exclusively to Chicago residents.

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When it opened Thursday, the appointment system was available to any Illinois resident eligible for a vaccine.

While some appointments also will be set aside for suburban Cook County residents, they must be made through the county government, which has not announced a process of scheduling them. That information will be released in the coming days through the news media and through vaccine.cookcountyil.gov, according to Sunday's announcement.

Those living outside Cook County no longer can make an appointment for the United Center. All appointments made prior to 4 p.m. Sunday will be honored, however.

Officials said the United Center was chosen as a mass vaccination site in part because of its proximity to vulnerable communities in the city. But while more than 40,000 seniors had secured appointments since Thursday morning, less than 40% were made by Chicago residents, prompting Sunday's changes.

"The United Center site is a part of the Biden Administration's strategy to focus additional effort on particularly vulnerable communities," the announcement from the press office of Gov. J.B. Pritzker states. "This site was selected, and an additional allocation was made available to the city, to achieve this goal. Based on the early registration data, it became apparent this was not occurring, leading FEMA to provide additional guidance related to the site to better target communities hit hardest by the virus, including ones surrounding the vaccination site on the city's West Side."

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