March 23, 2021
To: Members of the University Community
From: Katie Callow-Wright, Executive Vice President of the University and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President
I am writing today with an update on the University’s preparations for Phase 1c of COVID-19 vaccine distribution for members of the UChicago community.
Last week Chicago officials announced that Phase 1c of vaccine distribution in the city will begin on March 29, and provided updated details about this phase of vaccinations in Chicago. We are now moving forward in accordance with guidelines from the city and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to provide a staged rollout of vaccine to additional eligible members of the University community in Phase 1c, starting on March 29.
Those eligible for vaccination in Phase 1c will include people ages 16-64, including students, who have medical conditions that put them at high-risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. University of Chicago employees and certain contractors and affiliates also will be eligible for vaccination during Phase 1c under the CDC and city’s definition of essential workers in higher education. Individuals eligible in earlier phases who have not yet been vaccinated remain eligible in Phase 1c and Phase 2.
The city has cautioned that the tempo of vaccine rollout will continue to depend on vaccine supply. Our goal is to vaccinate all eligible University community members as quickly as possible, but the pace of vaccinations will depend on several factors, including phasing requirements, vaccine supply, how many people choose to get vaccinated, and the capacity of our on-campus vaccine clinic. We encourage all members of the University community to be vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, whether through our dedicated vaccine clinic or through other providers. The City of Chicago has posted a vaccination finder to help eligible individuals locate sites with available appointments.
Please note that, according to CDC and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) policy, most students will not be eligible for vaccination in Chicago until Phase 2, which is currently estimated to begin in May, subject to vaccine availability in Chicago. Although the State of Illinois recently announced plans for all residents 16 and older outside Chicago to get a COVID-19 vaccination beginning April 12, the City of Chicago comprises a separate public health jurisdiction and receives a separate vaccine supply from the federal government, and sets its own rules for vaccine distribution.
For the past several weeks, a group of University leaders, with guidance from UChicago Medicine (UCM), has worked to develop a vaccine allocation approach for our campus community that meets public health guidelines. We are fortunate in this effort to collaborate with specialists at UCM, which has administered COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 37,000 eligible people during Phase 1a and 1b. This figure includes more than 15,000 residents of the South Side. UCM has offered more than 131,000 vaccine appointments to patients so far, and will continue to extend vaccination invitations as distribution expands.
- Vaccine Clinic
Starting March 29, 2021, the University will operate a dedicated vaccine clinic for University personnel in collaboration with UCM. Most vaccinations will take place at the Student Wellness Center, 840 E. 59th Street. In order to offer as many appointments as possible, some individuals in Phase 1c may be offered appointment times at the existing UCM vaccine clinic, located nearby in Mitchell Hospital, in addition to the Student Wellness Center. We expect to continue UCM’s use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, subject to availability, which requires two doses approximately three weeks apart.
- Scheduling Vaccinations
- Activating Your MyChart Account – Everyone who gets vaccinated through our on-campus clinic will need a medical record and active UCM MyChart account to schedule their vaccination. The University is working with UCM to create medical records for all eligible individuals who do not already have one and who did not opt out of the process. If you are eligible to be vaccinated and did not opt out of medical record creation, but do not yet have an active UCM MyChart account, you will receive an email prompting you to set up MyChart. This email will arrive before you have an opportunity to schedule a vaccination appointment.
- Scheduling Your Vaccination Appointment – When it is your turn to receive the vaccine, you will be notified through MyChart that you can schedule a vaccination appointment. The notification will come through email, and if you have the MyChart app on your phone you can also elect to receive push notifications. We encourage you to schedule your appointment as soon as possible after receiving your notification, as vaccine supplies are subject to change and the available times may fill up quickly. You will schedule your second dose of the vaccine via MyChart after your first appointment. Assuming we continue using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, keep in mind that you will need to receive your second dose between 17-23 days after your first dose.
- Honoring Vaccination Appointments – To help ensure a smooth vaccine rollout and timely vaccine access for others in our community, it is extremely important to make every attempt to honor a vaccination appointment. In the event that you cannot make your appointment, you must cancel it ahead of time so that the vaccine dose reserved for you can still be used. If you cancel, your scheduling ticket will remain active in our system and you can reschedule if needed.
- Vaccine Rollout – In order to provide a steady rollout to our large campus community, vaccinations will proceed according to waves as decided through the University’s vaccine allocation plan, as follows:
- Individuals who have self-identified as having a high-risk medical condition will be the first group to receive an email to schedule a Phase 1c vaccine appointment – the first emails will go out later this week. This applies to eligible employees, affiliates, contractors and students. The University provided an opportunity in late February for people to self-identify as having a high-risk medical condition. If you have questions about the City of Chicago’s recent additions to its list of high-risk conditions, or for information on self-identifying as having a high-risk medical condition, please visit the UChicago Forward website.
- University employees (beyond those who identified as having a high-risk condition) will be the next group eligible to make appointments. Eligible individuals will be notified in batches over a period of weeks, to avoid exceeding our clinic capacity and vaccine availability at any one time.
- Eligible contractors and affiliates will be the next group contacted to schedule vaccination appointments.
- Students who fulfill paid Spring Quarter duties for which they receive a W-2 form from the University will be the next group eligible for vaccination in Phase 1c. The University will reach out to eligible students in early April with further instructions.
- Most students will be eligible for vaccination as part of Phase 2.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important part of protecting the health and safety of our community. We will make vaccinations available to everyone in the University community, including all students, within the constraints of public health guidelines and our implementation capacity. The University anticipates that our Phase 1c rollout will last through May and could continue into June, though the timing is likely to vary depending on the factors noted above. Our plans also are subject to change if public health authorities from the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois or the CDC revise their guidelines.
If you have further questions about vaccination preparations for Phase 1c or Phase 2, please visit the University’s vaccination FAQ or call our information hotline at 773-795-5374.