Nearly a month after Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for bars, restaurants and fitness centers took effect, the number of adults getting vaccinated has risen steadily, according to data released by the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Chicagoans older than 18 are now the most vaccinated age group in the city, with 83.7% of all Chicago adults having received at least one dose of one of the three approved vaccines against COVID-19, as compared with 80.1% of all Chicagoans older than 5, according to city data.
In addition, the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations began growing faster among Chicagoans 18 and older as compared with any other age group on Dec. 21, the same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the vaccine mandate would take effect Jan. 3, according to city data.
Lightfoot’s announcement came as a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant of COVID-19 swept the city, pushing hospitalizations to record-high levels.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday that she was confident that the vaccine mandate was working.
“What you see is a pretty notable increase,” Arwady said, particularly among people between ages 18 and 39, evidence that the vaccine mandate convinced them to get vaccinated after putting it off for months.
A significant number of people who are getting vaccinated at city-run sites pointed to the mandate as the deciding factor, Arwady said. All adults have been eligible for the vaccine for approximately nine months and an ample supply has been available. Children younger than 5 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re definitely hearing about needing to show vaccine cards for dining and going to the movies,” Arwady said.
In response to a request from WTTW News, representatives of the city’s health department released testimonials from 22 people who got their first dose of the vaccine at city-run events on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16. More than one-third of those cited the city’s vaccine mandate, with the rest saying they got vaccinated to protect their health or the health of others.
Nearly 59,000 Chicago adults got the first dose of the vaccine between Jan. 3 and Jan. 26. By comparison, fewer than 41,000 Chicago adults got vaccinated between Dec. 3 and Dec. 26, according to city data.
Representatives of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection told WTTW News the majority of Chicago businesses “have been diligent and committed to adhering to public health guidance during the pandemic.”
Between Jan. 3 and Jan. 30, city officials cited 39 establishments for violating the city’s vaccine mandate.
Chicago is averaging 38.3 new cases per day per 100,000 residents, after passing the peak of the omicron surge in early January, according to data from the Chicago Department of Public Health.
An average of 1,037 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 48% drop from the previous week, according to Chicago Department of Public Health data.
The city’s test positivity rate is 4.5%, down from 7.8% the previous week, while the number of tests dropped 7%, according to city data.