Chicago could start receiving Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in early March, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Wednesday.
The vaccine was found to be safe and effective against preventing severe illness from COVID-19 by Food and Drug Administration scientists this week. A group of FDA advisors will meet Friday to determine whether or not the vaccine should be recommended for emergency use.
“Obviously we have to wait for that final approval from the FDA, and the CDC also has to weigh in with its guidance on where it should be provided, but we’re feeling hopeful we may see it here in Chicago as soon as next week,” Arwady said.
The development comes as Chicago is seeing its lowest COVID-19 positivity rate since the pandemic hit the city last year.
On Wednesday, the city reported a daily average of 251 new cases and five deaths.
But while Arwady says Chicago is doing “really well” in the fight against the virus, it’s too soon to declare victory.
“We have not put COVID behind us. Part of the reason we’re doing so well is that people have really been taking the guidance seriously, not letting up. We are starting to see some of the impacts of vaccinating some of our highest-risk communities and areas,” she said.
Chicago has so far administered more than 440,000 doses of the two vaccines currently available, with about 130,000 people having received both shots, according to state data.
Arwady says even after people are fully vaccinated, it’s still important to wear a mask and practice social distancing until local case numbers drop further.
But she says getting vaccinated will lead to at least a partial return to normal.
“I now have been fully vaccinated, I was able to see my mom with a lot less concern than I did previously,” Arwady said. “I am able to have more interactions with less concern for my, and importantly my family’s and my community’s safety. More and more people are going to have that increased level of confidence as we get more folks vaccinated.”