Seniors swarm available COVID-vaccine appointments at United Center

Seniors online illustration Photo credit Getty Images

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago’s first mass vaccination site at the United Center began accepting appointments Thursday, and — no surprise — demand was intense.

Chicago Health Commissioner Allison Arwady tells WBBM Newsradio the digital platform to register was getting 24,000 hits a minute but booking a fraction of that amount — about 250 people per minute.

By 3 p.m., nearly 28,000 seniors had been signed up.

“We’ve certainly been filling up, but there are plenty of appointments,” she said. “And if you know anyone 65 and up — especially here in Chicago, but open to anyone across Illinois — please reach out and help them get one of these appointments.”

Dr. Arwady said the actual vaccinations at the United Center begin Tuesday March 9. The site will be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day.

The initial appointments are reserved for seniors 65 and over.

So far, only 36% of seniors in Chicago have gotten their first dose of vaccine, Arwady said.

Also Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged people to be patient as they try to navigate online appointment-making platforms and call centers.