The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Illinois

Posted on 05/05/21 by Catherine Maddux

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Residents age 16 years and older

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Federal and state-run vaccination sites, with some locations welcoming walk-ins, no appointment necessaryYou can use the health department's website to find a site near you or make an appointment. The state list covers hospitals, health centers and a wide variety of retail pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS, which are offering walk-in vaccinations at select locations. A list of government-run mass vaccination sites is available on the Illinois COVID-19 website.
  • The federal government’s vaccines website, www.vaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. You can use the same tool by texting your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine sites. 
  • Call the health department toll free at 800-889-3931 for assistance or send an email to DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.
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.

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. Federal officials warn that the vaccine has been connected with rare, severe blood clots in a small number of recipients, especially in women age 50 years and younger.

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.

When will kids be able to get vaccinated? 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Pfizer has asked federal officials to consider expanding eligibility for its vaccine to those as young as 12, and both companies are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he expects high school students will be able to get a vaccine by this fall and that “kids of any age” will likely be eligible by early next year.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

It depends. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC recommends taking precautions in public even after you’re vaccinated. That includes wearing masks and social distancing in many situations and avoiding large indoor crowds.

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and after the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated people 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 having to wear masks, unless anyone is at high risk for severe COVID-19.

Vaccinated people also don’t need to wear masks at outdoor gatherings with small groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the CDC says. That includes eating with friends outdoors at a restaurant. But the CDC recommends masks for large outdoor events and for indoor activities like eating inside a restaurant, shopping and attending religious services.

This guide was originally published in December 2020. It was updated on May 5 with information about retail pharmacies offering walk-in vaccinations.

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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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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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