CHICAGO — Public health officials on Monday announced the city's coronavirus vaccine distribution program has expanded to include nursing home staff and residents.
Public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city on Tuesday is set to open an appointment-only "central mass-vaccination" site at Malcolm X College for outpatient health care workers.
So far, more than 20,000 vaccinations have been administered to health care workers at Chicago hospitals. This week public health officials said they have begun to distribute vaccines to nursing homes and community health centers including Esperanza Health Center, where the first doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered at a Monday news conference.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said expanding vaccine distribution to community health care centers is part of the city's push to reach health care workers in minority neighborhoods, particularly Hispanic enclaves, inequitably affected by coronavirus.
So far, Chicago health care workers living downtown and in mostly white, affluent North Side neighborhoods had received the most vaccination shots between Dec. 15 and Monday, according to city data.
Lightfoot said the first Moderna vaccines were intentionally administered at Esperanza Health "because it is a lifeline for Chicago's Latinx community," which has suffered a "particularly high burden" of COVID-19 cases during the second surge of coronavirus cases.
"Workers at these facilities are overwhelmingly people of color and primarily serve our residents of color," she said. The mayor reminded Chicagoans that good news about the vaccine is just the "beginning of the end" of the pandemic, and folks to continue to follow public health guidance as the vaccine roll out continues.
"Because we have this vaccine, because we have hope we haven't seen in months, it does not mean the pandemic itself is over. Quite the opposite," Lightfoot said, urging folks to stay home from work if they feel sick.
"We cannot afford to let more Chicagoans, our neighbors, get sick and die because of risky and irresponsible behavior," the mayor said.