CHICAGO (CBS) — As eligibility to get a COVID vaccine opens to everyone 16 and up, finding an appointment is generally easier than it once was.
And that has one of the biggest resources for finding a shot around the Chicago area switching gears.READ MORE: Nearly 18,000 Unemployment Claims Filed In Illinois Last Week Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra explains from the United Center.
For weeks, whether you were trying to find a vaccine dose here at the United Center or elsewhere, the Chicago Vaccine Hunters Facebook page was a much needed roadmap and support system for those looking.
That has changed in just a handful of days, and so its focus is changing too.
When thousands of Chicagoans tell the story of how they were vaccinated, they will mention a Facebook page.
“We’ve served about 5,000 residents in the greater Chicagoland area.”
Candice Choi is a lead volunteer with the Chicago Vaccine Angels, which spun off the page that started as a social media town square for tracking down appointments.
“A few weeks ago you could see that the page was just bombarded with people desperate,” Choi said.
But as access to shots has gotten easier, the posts have changed. Not as many people need appointments. Many people need vaccine brought to them.READ MORE: When Insurance Company Wouldn't Budge On His Claim, He Took Matters Into His Own Hands; Who Monitors Complaints Against Insurers In Illinois?
“It’s actually been alarming the number of calls of people who’ve been on the waiting list for four months now,” Choi said.
So the Vaccine Angels are pivoting to a new focus to reach the homebound by partnering with private medical groups. Their first is Instavaxx, giving doses at no charge, no matter the insurance or immigration status.
“We started vaccinating in the month of March after we got our first supply of vaccines.”
Dr. Rajesh Iyengar is Chief Medical Officer. The Vaccine Angels get names of those needing in home help, and pass them to him.
“They’ve been amazing in that in terms of getting all the clients, and then we are working together to make sure we can get them vaccinated,” said Iyengar.
And they’re getting rave reviews.
The Vaccine Angels hope to partner with more providers to get more reactions like that, in this next phase of vaccination.
This vaccination effort is its own undertaking, and the group is looking for people who’d like to serve as medical or non-medical volunteers for the homebound program.
There’s a post outlining how on the Chicago Vaccine Hunters Page.MORE NEWS: Local Vaccination Sites Begin Administering Pfizer Vaccine To Kids Ages 12 To 15 Thursday; Some Sites Extend Hours