Chicago distributes COVID-19 vaccines to long-term medical care facilities, outpatient clinics

Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune

Chicago officials on Monday began distributing vaccines to long-term medical care facilities and outpatient clinics, marking another milestone in the city’s fight against COVID-19, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot and public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced the latest stage in vaccine distribution during a news conference at Esperanza Health Center on the Southwest Side. While highlighting the event’s significance, Lightfoot and Arwady also warned residents against becoming complacent or letting down their guard against the virus as widespread distribution of the vaccine remains months away.

And, they said, part of the city’s Latino community continues to struggle with higher case rates.

“We cannot afford to let more Chicagoans, our neighbors, get sick and die because of risky and irresponsible behavior,” Lightfoot said.

Earlier this month, the city administered its ceremonial first COVID-19 vaccination at Loretto Hospital, a 122-bed medical facility in the Austin community that was chosen because of the care it has provided to communities hit hardest by the virus. The hospital also was chosen to help public health officials promote the vaccine in the Black community, where the country’s history of inhumane medical experiments such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study remains an unhealed wound.

The city’s also working on unrolling a mass vaccination site this week, Arwady said.

Arwady said the city has received its first batch of Moderna vaccines, which don’t require the same ultra cold storage that Pfizer’s vaccine needs.

Check back for updates.

gpratt@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @royalpratt