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United Center Patients Weren’t Told How To Get Their 2nd Dose, But Error Has Been Fixed, Top Doc Says

Many people were left confused about when they should return to the United Center for their second dose. The city is now having to call and email all those people.

People wait in line at the United Center mass vaccination site in the Near West Side neighborhood on March 9, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Another hiccup at the United Center vaccination site meant numerous people were left without information on how to get their second shot earlier this week.

The site opened Tuesday and, though it was meant to inspire hope and boost Chicago’s and Illinois’ coronavirus vaccination efforts, it’s led to confusion and frustration for many.

Officials originally said people who got their shot at the site would be immediately provided with information on when to come back for their second appointment. But multiple people contacted Block Club to say they hadn’t been given that information and didn’t know how to make an appointment for their second dose.

The Pfizer vaccine is administered at the site, and it requires a second shot for a person to be fully protected from COVID-19.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, acknowledged the issue Thursday and said the city is working to fix it.

Arwady, speaking during a livestream, said the United Center is using a different technology platform than has been used as the city’s mass vaccination sites. At the city’s sites, people are given information about their second appointment right after getting their first shot.

But at the United Center, officials did not provide information as they said they would, Arwady said. But people are expected to come back for their second shot, she said.

The city is now calling and emailing everyone who got their first shot Tuesday or Wednesday to give them information on when they can return to the United Center for their second dose.

People who got a shot but don’t hear from the city can assume it’s safe to come in for their second shot exactly three weeks from the time of their first appointment, Arwady said.

“Second doses were being held for that person [who got a first shot] … with the expectation they would get that appointment,” Arwady said. “… I know there was some confusion on that I apologize for that.”

As of Thursday morning, people who go to the site for their first dose are being immediately provided with information on when to return for their second shot, Arwady said.

RELATED: United Center Vaccinations Start — But Many Confused By Who Is Eligible, When More Appointments Will Open

The situation is “not great, but not a concern because, again, we’ve saved all that vaccine,” Arwady said. “If your name is Allison Arwady and you got vaccinated on the first day, there is a vaccine that says ‘Allison Arwady’ right on it for three weeks later.

“… Emails have gone out for everybody who got a first dose appointment on either the first day or the second.”

It’s the latest hiccup in local vaccination efforts. The site — where up to 6,000 shots can be administered per day — was meant to be open to all Illinoisans, but eligibility requirements for that site were changed at the last minute Sunday, leading to confusion.

On top of that, technical glitches irritated many people as they tried to make appointments online over the weekend at the site. Officials have also given different answers when asked how many people have been able to sign up at the United Center and how many doses will be administered there.

Still, people who have gotten shots at the site have said it’s well-run and the line moves quickly.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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