CHICAGO - Thousands converged on a United Center parking lot Tuesday as the federal government's largest mass vaccination site in the state finally opened.
Six-thousand people will be vaccinated every day at the UC for at least the next two months.
At times, the line was over a block long, but always moving quickly.
"It was really well organized. Very efficient. I was really impressed today," said Brian LaBelle, who got vaccinated.
For now, it is limited to Chicago residents, seniors and people with underlying medical conditions.
"The reason my husband and I got our shot is because we’ve been missing our grandkids. So after we get our shots will be able to hug our grandkids again," said Clydice Dorch.
Sign up is temporarily closed after about 50,000 people grabbed what will eventually be more than 180,000 appointments.
"The whole first week of vaccinations is entirely booked. The second and third weeks are sort of partially booked. Of course the drive-thru is coming in, so there will be more details coming," said Dr. Allison Arwady.
Initially, the UC site was supposed to be open to all Cook County residents, but that changed on Sunday when health officials became concerned that suburbanites were squeezing out the city’s minority communities.
"If we vaccinate that population and really focus on them, we’re going to have gone a long way in mitigating the spread of the virus. We have to focus on our most vulnerable residents," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
More than 200 Illinois National Guard troops have been assigned to the site, which is expected to be putting needles in arms for at least two months.