Chicago prepares for Phase 1B of COVID vaccination plan, but there will still be a wait

COVID-19 vaccine

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- More people in the City of Chicago will be eligible for the COVID vaccine staring next week, but city officials said you should make an appointment, because vaccine supplies are tight.

Starting Monday, people over the age of 65 and essential workers will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as Illinois, including Chicago, moves into Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the City of Chicago is getting ready to open vaccination eligibility to those who fall under Phase 1B, and most people will get their shot through their primary care doctor.

"Your hospital and its system of care will be vaccinating with a major focus on Chicagoans over the age of 65," she said.

But, Dr. Arwady is preaching patience. She said the city gets 35,000 new doses of vaccine per week to cover over 300,000 newly eligible people.

"We do not have anywhere near enough vaccine to vaccinate anywhere near the number of people who are going to want to get vaccinated beginning on Monday," she said.

Dr. Arwady urged anyone eligible to receive the vaccine to make an appointment with their medical provider. She said some without major underlying health issues may have to wait several weeks.

"If you're in your 60s or don't have a lot of underlying conditions, I want you to understand it is likely to be a number of weeks before you are able to receive vaccine," Dr. Arwady said.

While the vaccine is highly effective, Dr. Arwady said even though she has received both doses, she said she will continue to wear a mask.

"We still have a lot of COVID here in Chicago. Even a 95 percent protection, which is an amazing protection rate, means if I were to have a big exposure to COVID, there is still a one in 20 chance that I could get COVID," she said.

Dr. Arwady said the city will revisit the face mask and social distancing requirements as more people are vaccinated and the infection rate goes down.

"As more of the population gets vaccinated, as our numbers hopefully continue to decrease, and as we start to move past COVID, there will be place, later, that we will be able to stop doing some of this," Dr. Arwady said.