Chicago's United Center tightens vaccine rules after non-residents book most slots

Chicago’s United Center mass vaccination site limited appointments to Chicago residents Sunday after most of the initial slots went to people who don’t live in the city.

“So far, more than 40,000 residents 65+ have secured appointments at the United Center. Less than 40% of these appointments were actually made by Chicagoans,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote on Twitter Sunday.

“Equity has always been the guiding light for our vaccine rollout,” Lightfoot added.

To that end, appointments are now restricted to Chicagoans who are 65 years or older, have qualifying jobs or who have underlying health conditions that make them susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19, according to the mayor.

The United Center is one of 18 community vaccination centers that are part of a federal plan to bring the vaccine to hard-hit, high-risk communities.

“Vaccines for these centers are provided to the states above and beyond the regular allocations,” according to FEMA.

To determine locations for those centers, the Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with state and local partners. They used the CDC’s social vulnerability index, which uses census data to identify communities that need support before, during and after disasters.

PHOTO: An aerial photo shot with a drone shows a COVID-19 vaccination center being constructed in a parking lot at the United Center, March 2, 2021 in Chicago.

When it reaches full capacity, the United Center site will be capable of administering 6,000 vaccines per day.

In Illinois, 8.8% of the population has received two doses of the vaccine, compared to 9.2% of the population nationwide, according to the CDC.

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