Nov 15, 2021 - COVID
Chicago seems to expand booster eligibility
Illustration of a syringe as a rocket propelling through the atmosphere
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many Chicagoans who think they're ineligible for COVID-19 booster shots might be wrong.

  • At a Friday press conference, city health commissioner Allison Arwady urged adults who got their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six months ago to "get a booster" even if it's just to attend "higher risk events."

Why it matters: Official federal guidance is a lot stricter, but Arwady appears to be mirroring California health authorities by unofficially expanding booster eligibility based on self-assessed risk.

What they're saying: Arwady described eligible people as those 18 and over who got Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations and "are for any reason at increased risk."

  • Her criteria: "If they have any kind of underlying condition or if they're working or living or even attending a higher risk event, we are encouraging them to also get a booster."

What we're seeing: Anecdotally, we know several Chicagoans who have easily obtained the booster but don't technically meet federal eligibility standards.

  • Folks seeking those boosters are not being asked to prove eligibility through medical or occupational records.
  • Monica confirmed this by getting a booster for her daughter and herself Friday.

Context: Last week Pfizer officially lobbied U.S. health authorities to open booster eligibility to anyone over 18.

What's next: With rising rates in Chicago and Illinois, local leaders might be pressured to do the same.

  • Based on Arwady's comments, we think Chicago (unofficially) already has.

Where to go: Chicagoans can book vaccine appointments at hundreds of local clinics and pharmacies, or check out this calendar of mobile and pop-up vax events around the area.

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