O’Hare Hilton opens as vaccine site for airport, public transit employees

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The City of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Aviation announced Friday plans to open a COVID-19 vaccine distribution site at O’Hare International Airport to protect essential transportation workers who have kept the region moving throughout the pandemic.

Starting Friday, the new point of dispensing (POD) at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel will provide the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot to airport and public transit employees.

The POD will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is not open to the general public, as vaccines will be limited to airport employees and other public transit workers with agencies such as the CTA, Metra, and PACE, as well as taxi and ride share drivers.

“These vaccines provide a source of optimism for a return to normal operations as we continue working to keep Chicago connected to the world throughout this pandemic,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “Chicago’s transportation employees are crucial to our region’s infrastructure, and I’m proud to host a site that will help protect them from COVID-19 as efficiently and equitably as possible.”

Appointments will be required for all vaccinations and walk-ins will not be allowed. There will be no cost to recipients and insurance will not be required.

Approximately 500 individuals will be vaccinated each day. The site will first prioritize vaccinating first responders and security personnel, followed by public transit personnel who have direct contact with passengers, including flight crews, bus drivers, and taxi drivers. Once those groups have been immunized, appointments will open up for pilots and mechanics, followed by all other airport employees, in accordance with the city’s vaccine rollout phases.

Midway employees will also be welcome to make appointments at the O’Hare facility, and mobile teams will conduct vaccination events at Midway in the future.

The O’Hare POD will only be distributing the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was recently approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As of now, there are no plans to distribute the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the O’Hare location.

While it will use the city’s vaccine supply, the O’Hare POD will be staffed by personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).