Eligible Chicagoans can now visit zocdoc.com/vaccine to see a list of COVID-19 vaccine appointments, though supply and appointments are still limited and officials caution that it will take weeks before everyone can get their shots.
"One of the biggest concerns that we've heard from people is, 'I am having to do a lot of work to find vaccine appointments.' And again, many of our vaccines are in health care providers who are calling their existing patients," Dr Alison Arwady, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said at a Feb. 2 press conference. "But where we do have publicly available appointments, we wanted to create a technology-based partnership that would make it easier for Chicago residents to find publicly available appointments."
Richard Fine with Zocdoc, a digital healthcare marketplace, acknowledged that the time it takes to spend hours checking different websites and making phone calls for appointments is a frustrating process that benefits "those with the most time and the most resources."
He pointed out that there will be times when people go on Zocdoc and there will be no appointments listed; indeed, there are few, if any, appointments currently listed. But people can register with their email addresses, and they will be notified when more appointments are made available. Zocdoc is adding more partners who are providing the vaccine as they sign up to offer appointments on the service.
"As we receive more vaccine, we'll be able to make more appointments available," Arwady said. "If it's full, put in your email address, and we'll be alerting you when they are available. But again, remember: Phase 1b does not mean that most people will get vaccinated that first week or this week. We've got more than 750,000 people who have just become eligible, and most people are going to get vaccinated (by) March."
This week alone, the city is getting around 40,000 first doses of vaccine. There are more than 360,000 Chicagoans who are 65 or older, and 350,000 more who are working frontline essential jobs aside from also-eligible health care workers who have yet to be vaccinated. Arwady said 9-10% of the city's vaccines have been given directly to pharmacies.
Several local vaccine providers are not currently listed on Zocdoc. Cook County Health sites have fully booked appointments for first doses of COVID-19 vaccines; more appointments will be released as more vaccines are received. Registration is open at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov.
Howard Brown Health — a network of federally qualified health clinics, including one in Hyde Park at 1525 E. 55th St. — is also fully booked for vaccine appointments. More appointments will be added as the network knows more about their vaccine supply.
Vaccine appointments are not available for the public at UChicago Medicine, and eligible patients cannot register for appointments themselves. If and when existing patients are eligible to receive a vaccine from the hospital, the hospital will contact them through MyChart messaging, phone calls and emails.