En español | Who can get vaccinated now?
- Illinois residents age 65 and older, non–health care frontline essential workers and, in some parts of the state (excluding Chicago), pregnant women and people who have co-morbidities and underlying conditions (Phase 1B+)
- 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. All can be translated into the following languages: Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Polish, Arabic and Tagalog. You must use the links connected to the source and register and sign up online.
- Mass 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, a federally-sponsored site, will open on March 10.
- A federally-backed online tool called Vaccine Finder lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments.
- Call the health department toll free at 800-889-3931 for assistance or send an email to DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.
- Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others.
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 eligible due to an underlying medical condition or comorbidity, you may need a note from your doctor or some other form of proof. If you are eligible on the basis of your work, bring proof of employment such as a pay stub, badge or letter from your employer.
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?
Phase 1B eligibility has been expanded to include people who have co-morbidities and underlying conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, lung disease or heart disease. Not all parts of Illinois are able to accommodate this priority group right away, including Chicago, but will as supplies increase. Phase 1C has not yet been detailed by health officials, but may begin at the end of March, pending supplies.
AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death.
How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get the vaccine?
Residents and staff of long-term care facilities are being vaccinated through a federal program that has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to offer the shots at such facilities at no cost. Illinois is participating in the program.
CVS and Walgreens have finished offering first doses to all staff and residents of nursing homes and are now giving second doses. They are also now offering first-dose clinics at assisted living facilities nationwide.
I’ve heard that some 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.
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.
Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-life conditions,” the CDC says. It could also take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose of a vaccine. And while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s not yet clear whether someone who has been vaccinated can still catch the virus and transmit it to others.
The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity, and it continues to recommend preventive measures, such as face masks and social distancing.
In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus initially identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, although they would still provide some protection.
This guide was originally published in December 2020. It was updated on Mar. 1 with information about expanded eligibility.
Also of Interest:
- What Is Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments?
- How Vaccination Will Work in Nursing Homes
- Read our full coronavirus coverage