Outreach Workers to Go Door-to-Door in Neighborhoods Where COVID-19 Vaccinations Are Lagging

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

City officials are targeting the 13 Chicago neighborhoods that have the lowest rate of COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the city’s push to bring life-saving vaccines directly to those most at risk of falling ill and dying from the virus.

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Teams of workers who have completed the city’s online vaccine ambassador program started going door-to-door Friday to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“Community by community, block by block, house by house, we will continue to talk with Chicagoans about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and let them know when and where they can get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” Arwady said. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for Chicagoans who have not yet been vaccinated to get the vaccine.”

Workers will knock on the door of every home in Auburn Gresham, Austin, Chatham, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Hegewisch, Montclare, Riverdale, Roseland, South Deering, South Shore, West Englewood and West Garfield Park, officials said.

They will discuss vaccine options, share information about vaccination locations nearby and answer questions about the vaccine to fight disinformation and dispel conspiracy theories.

The city will use the data gathered by the outreach workers to schedule hyperlocal and pop-up vaccination events where the demand and need is greatest and identify those in need of at-home vaccination, officials said.

Many of the outreach workers have been reassigned from positions they held as contract tracers during the first two surges of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

The push is the latest phase of the city’s Protect Chicago Plus effort, which set aside 124,000 doses of the once hard-to-get vaccine from February through May for 15 Chicago neighborhoods whose residents were most likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19.

Officials said that effort was successful, and helped make Chicago a leader in vaccine equity as compared with other large cities by raising the rate of vaccination in those 15 neighborhoods from 6% to approximately 50%, officials said. 

When Protect Chicago Plus temporary clinics and special events ended, the percent of adults with at least one dose of the vaccine in the targeted communities of Archer Heights, Belmont Cragin and Gage Park exceeded the citywide rate of vaccination.

At its peak in mid-April, the city administered more than 30,000 doses of one of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines per day on average, according to city data. 

This week, the city administered approximately 7,500 doses per day, down more than 64% since May 1, according to city data.

Chicagoans interested in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can find an appointment or walk-in opportunity on the city’s calendar or by calling the city’s vaccine hotline at 312-746-4835.

Chicagoans ages 65 or older, or anyone with a disability or medical condition are eligible to have COVID-19 vaccines brought directly to their homes, and can make an arrangement by calling the city’s hotline.

More than 70.8% of Chicagoans older than 65 have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while approximately 62% are fully vaccinated, according to city data. That lags behind vaccination efforts statewide.

More than 52.4% of Chicagoans have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to city data.

White Chicagoans are more likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 than Black or Latino Chicagoans, according to city data.

Approximately 58% of White or Asian Chicagoans have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, outpacing Black and Latino Chicagoans who are significantly more likely to contract the virus and suffer severe illness or die, according to city data through Wednesday.

Approximately 35.6% of Black Chicagoans have gotten the first shot, while more than 44% of Latino Chicagoans have gotten at least one dose, according to the city’s data.

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

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