The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Illinois

Posted on 04/09/21 by Catherine Maddux

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Illinois residents age 65 and older, those age 16 plus with co-morbidities and underlying conditions, frontline essential workers, such as higher education staff, K-12 teachers, restaurant and grocery store workers, media, pregnant women, construction workers and religious leaders (Phase 1B and 1B+)
  • More than 80 counties have opened up eligibility to people age 16 and older ahead of the state's schedule to expand eligibility on April 12. A complete list is available on the state's health department website.
  • In Chicago, residents age 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions and essential workers who cannot work from home, excluding Cook County (Phase 1C)
  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities and health care personnel (Phase 1A)

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • State vaccine locator: You can search and sign up for vaccine appointments with this searchable database on the state health website, which covers hospitals, health centers and a variety of retail pharmacies, including CVS. Translations are available in the following languages: SpanishChineseHindi, PolishArabic and Tagalog. Follow the links to register and sign up online.
  • Mass and community vaccination sites: A complete list of sites throughout the state is available here with sign up links and contact information. The United Center in Chicago is offering vaccines. Registration for appointments are open and can be made online or call the multilingual center at 312-746-4835 (Monday – Saturday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sunday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm). Forest Park in Cook County is hosting a mass vaccination site. Register for an appointment at or call 833-308-1988. In Aurora, the Kane Vax Hub is offering COVID-19 vaccinations starting April 9 through April 11 and on April 13. Eligible Illinois residents can sign up at the host's website.
  • Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment.
  • Call the health department toll free at 800-889-3931 for assistance or send an email to DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.
  • A federally-backed online tool called Vaccine Finder lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. 
  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others. 
Chicago's Roseland Community Hospital Administers Covid Vaccinations To Hospital Staff

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment? 

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. 

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?  

All Illinois residents outside Chicago age 16 and older will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations starting on April 12.

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get the vaccine?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Illinois are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete. 

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

Which vaccines require a second shot?

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot. Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older.

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. 

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).  

The Illinois plan allows providers to charge an administration fee but stipulates that it will not be passed on to those receiving the vaccine — even the uninsured. The plan directs providers to seek reimbursement from the vaccine recipient’s public or private insurance company. There are already reports of scammers offering purported COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

 You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. 

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

This guide was originally published in December 2020. It was updated on April 9 with the opening of a new vaccination hub in Aurora.

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Also of Interest: 

This story is provided by AARP Illinois. Visit the AARP Illinois page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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