Chicago’s Top Doctor Pleads with Chicagoans to be Patient While Waiting for Vaccine

Chicago’s top doctor on Thursday pleaded with Chicagoans who will become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting next week to be patient, since the city does not yet have enough vaccine to meet demand from residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, got a second and final dose of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday at Truman City College in Chicago as part of the city’s campaign to convince those skeptical about the vaccine to get inoculated.

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The CDPH now has six mass vaccination sites up and running for health care workers. Starting Monday, Chicagoans 65 and older, as well as front-line essential workers, can get the vaccine. That includes approximately 660,000 Chicago residents, Arwady said.

But the city “does not have anywhere near enough vaccine” to inoculate those Chicagoans, Arwady said.

“My word for you is patience,” she said, warning that it is likely to be three weeks before the Biden administration can get more doses of the vaccine to Chicago. “I know a lot of you will be frustrated.”

There is no citywide registry to sign up to get the vaccine, Arwady said. All vaccines in Chicago will be administered by appointment through Chicagoans’ doctors, at pharmacies, at mass vaccination sites or through their employer, Arwady said.

The second phase of the vaccination effort is likely to take all of February and March, Arwady said.

Chicago is set to get 34,000 doses of the vaccine next week, according to Arwady. However, the city has the capacity to administer 170,000 doses of the vaccine per week, she added.

Since vaccinations began Dec. 15, more than 100,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Chicago, Arwady said.

That includes 84,156 Chicagoans who have gotten the first dose of the two-dose regimen as of Wednesday. That’s about 3% of the city’s population, according to city data. Of those, 28,075 are fully vaccinated. The rest of the doses were administered to those who work in Chicago, but live outside the city, officials said.

The city’s tentative vaccine distribution plan estimates that there will not be enough COVID-19 vaccine available for all Chicagoans ages 16 and older until May 31.

While the vast majority of Chicagoans wait for the vaccine, Arwady said efforts to stop the coronavirus from spreading are “broadly bringing COVID under control” in Chicago.

“We’re seeing excellent progress with COVID numbers here in Chicago,” Arwady said. “Our rates are down, our positivity is coming down.”

The city’s coronavirus test positivity is 7.7%, according to CDPH data. Seven days ago, it was 10%.

Chicago is poised to meet the requirements to move from what state officials call Tier 2 down to Tier 1 on Thursday if the city records a test positivity rate of 8% or less for the third consecutive day, based on the seven-day rolling average, as well as no increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and at least 20% of ICU and hospital beds are available.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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