CHICAGO - The United Center is about to become a mass vaccination site.
According to published reports, the location could vaccinate up to 7,000 people per day as early as next month.
The site on the Near West Side is planned to open March 10, and will prioritize access to seniors and people from populations hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
The site will be by appointment only, Pritzker’s office said in a statement.
"The United Center is one of the best locations for vaccinating large numbers of people in America," Pritzker said. "[I]t’s easy to get to, is in the midst of a medically underserved community, can handle large crowds and is well known to everyone in Illinois."
The United Center will be open to all Illinois residents currently eligible to be vaccinated under state guidelines, and will be managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with support from the Department of Defense, State of Illinois, Cook County and City of Chicago.
"I’m glad there’s more opportunity now. Very hard to get a vaccine, spots filling up. Glad its opening up," said Chicagoan Catalina Castillo.
The mass vaccination site is a collaboration between FEMA and the White House, offering free vaccines to residents in high-risk communities. Plans include drive-thru and walk-in facilities.
"You feel a relief of freedom when you get the shot," said West Side resident Patricia Kendrick.
Alderman Walter Burnett says the area is one of the most mixed income clusters in the city. He says the United Center is conveniently located and a great site to further the cause.
"We’re very excited about it, one of the safest areas in the city," the alderman said.
Thousands of Illinois residents have already received their COVID-19 shot.
On Thursday, officials announced residents 16 and older with disabilities and underlying health conditions not included in previous categories can now stand in line.
"I’m gonna try to encourage everyone in my ward to get the vaccine," Alderman Burnett said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report