The state readied two more mass vaccination sites to open Thursday as workers completed preparations at the United Center site, where plans call for up to 6,000 people to be inoculated each day by next week.
The sites opening Thursday at 1155 E. Oakton St. in Des Plaines and in downstate Quincy, together, are geared to give shots to up to 4,000 people a day once at full capacity, the state said. With those sites, the state has 18 state-supported mass vaccination sites.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office also announced Wednesday that additional Illinois National Guard members are being activated to support seven southern counties with COVID-19 response.
The United Center mass vaccination site is in a parking lot on the northeast side of Madison and Wood streets. Contractors are building six white tents — each covering 5,000 square feet — that will make up the site, said Dan Shulman, a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman.
“This is just really on a much grander scale what the typical person that’s going to any other place to get a vaccination is going to experience,” he said.
The site will be the biggest in the state. It will have a “soft opening” on March 9, Shulman said. March 10 will be the first day the site will try to hit its goal of 6,000 vaccines per day. The site will be open seven days a week for eight weeks. Registration will begin 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
There will be more than 110,000 slots for those 65 or older, who can register at zocdoc.com/vaccine or call 312-746-4835, according to Chicago public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
The call center will be monitored from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Through a city partnership with Uber, 20,000 free rides also will be available to those residents who need help getting to the appointment and back after they sign up.
The site will have free parking. Those seeking shots will enter one tent for an intake process, where they will be asked a series of health questions and confirm their registration, then move through a breezeway into another tent where they will receive the shot.
Before leaving, there will also be a waiting area for a brief observation of a person to see if they experience any symptoms after taking the vaccine, Shulman said. The person will also have a follow-up appointment made at the center to receive their second dose.
“We’re partnering with the United Center that has ample experience dealing with high volumes of people, moving them through a space and getting them in and out efficiently,” he said.
“We’ve never done a mass vaccination, a national vaccination effort like this before, but we do have experience setting up large-scale facilities, whether it’s mobile home parks, disaster registration centers, emergency commodity points of distribution, this is just a different scale for a different purpose.”
Pritzker said the opening of the United Center mass vaccination site “is a really exciting development.” The state had been working with the federal government, FEMA, as well as the White House, to establish the site.
The United Center was chosen because it’s in an area that was easily accessible to communities of color that have “historically had challenges with the health care system to get vaccinated,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said he thinks the site will help increase vaccination numbers on weekends.
“The issue is not so much that the people don’t want to get vaccinated on the weekends; it’s that the local public health departments that are delivering those vaccines aren’t fully staffed in their locations in those over the weekend days, and their partners similarly,” he said. “We’ve tried to make up for that by, again, with the FEMA site, which is open on Saturday and Sundays, and with the distribution of vaccines to our federal retail pharmacy partners.”
Illinois administered 82,449 coronavirus vaccine doses Tuesday, reaching a statewide total of 2,900,341, according to state officials. The number of Illinois residents who have been fully vaccinated — receiving both of the required two shots — reached 906,490, or 7.11% of the total population.
Over the past seven days, the state’s daily average for vaccinations was 84,202.
Officials on Wednesday also reported 2,104 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 44 additional fatalities. The total number of known infections in Illinois is 1,191,520, and the statewide death toll is 20,626.
The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 2.4% — the lowest the state has seen since late June — for the fifth day in a row. Wednesday’s new cases resulted from 80,854 tests.
As of Tuesday night, 1,260 people in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 275 patients in intensive care units and 138 patients on ventilators.
Original article: chicagotribune.com