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Untrue Social Media Posts Claim Anyone Can Sign Up At United Center — And It’s Creating A Headache For City Health Workers

The incorrect message claims anyone can sign up at the United Center vaccination site using a code. City health staff are having to cancel all ineligible appointments.

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

CHICAGO — Viral posts on social media are falsely claiming to have a way any Chicagoan can land an appointment at the United Center mass vaccination site — and it’s creating a headache for the city’s health department.

The incorrect message claims anyone, regardless of their eligibility, can sign up at the United Center mass vaccination site using a voucher code and a link that takes you to a site where you can sign up for appointments. Some versions of the message wrongly say the city created the voucher code because it isn’t filling appointments at the site or is having to throw out doses.

The message — which has been shared and spread rapidly on social media and in text messages — is untrue. And people who are spreading the false message and signing up for appointments are creating more work for the city’s health department, officials have said.

The mass vaccination site is actually bustling along, with appointments filling up quickly and no doses being wasted, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has repeatedly said. The city is doing well over 5,000 appointments per day at the site, Arwady said Tuesday, and the site’s drive-thru portion opened Wednesday.

RELATED: No United Center Vaccine Doses Are Being Wasted, Top Doc Says After Misinformation Spreads

“United Center is doing beautifully. We’re having absolutely no trouble booking vaccines,” Arwady said during a Tuesday livestream. “I can tell you for a fact there will not be changes in eligibility at the United Center. We are having absolutely no problem filling appointments.”

The voucher code and website in the message are actually meant to be used by people who live in specific ZIP codes where communities were hit hard by COVID-19.

That means the city’s health department staff are having to go through appointments made with the code and cancel those of people who don’t live in those ZIP codes, Arwady said.

Arwady asked people to stop spreading the misinformation and signing up using the code because it’s creating more work for the health department.

People who are trying to get an appointment at the United Center but who don’t live in the prioritized ZIP codes can instead sign up through Zocdoc. The city is regularly releasing appointments at the site on Zocdoc, though they fill up within minutes, Arwady has said.

RELATED: Here’s How You Can Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus In Chicago

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