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Federal Funds For COVID Vaccine Distribution

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CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports the state will get an extra $124 million in funding from the CDC to further expand its COVID-19 vaccination program. That's more than $90 million for the state and $33 million for the city of Chicago.

Video Transcript

- Meanwhile, big federal vaccine funds are coming to Illinois and the city of Chicago to support vaccine equity across the state. Improving access and acceptance was on the mind of Vice President Kamala Harris during her trip to a Chinatown vaccination site this afternoon. CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey joins us live with more on the VP's visit. And Megan, the majority of the vaccine funding announced today is earmarked for underserved communities.

MEGAN HICKEY: Right, Erica. The CDC says 75% of that total funding must be spent on specific programs in communities where vaccination progress has been slow.

It was touch down for Vice President Kamala Harris, and then straight to this Chinatown Union Hall vaccination site, where her ad libbed comments focused on the need for vaccine education.

KAMALA HARRIS: We're all here to make a statement that we understand the significance of getting vaccinated, that it's bigger than us.

MEGAN HICKEY: The Vice President pleaded with her socially distanced audience to spread the good word about vaccination. Andre Thomas knows the hesitancy well.

What is the number one answer you get?

ANDRE THOMAS: I think fear of the unknown.

MEGAN HICKEY: Thomas is a violence prevention specialist with the organization Target Area, who works closely with members in the Englewood community.

ANDRE THOMAS: The 8% is really, really low.

MEGAN HICKEY: 8%. He's talking about the percentage of residents in the Englewood zip code 60621 who are fully vaccinated. Now compare that to 60611, a near North Side zip code where 31% of residents are fully vaccinated, all while the COVID-19 death rate in Englewood is more than five times higher.

ANDRE THOMAS: It has to be [? barriers, ?] it has to be a reason why, when you compare that to other populations.

MEGAN HICKEY: The VP's trip came hand-in-hand with the announcement from the CDC that Illinois would be awarded more than $90 million to ensure greater vaccine equity. Chicago's getting nearly 34 million. Thomas was glad to hear 3/4 of that money would go to neighborhoods like Englewood, where he and VP Harris believe education is key.

KAMALA HARRIS: Remind people of their power to do something that will save their lives.

MEGAN HICKEY: Now, that money awarded today is part of $3 billion in CDC funding awarded to 64 jurisdictions across the country. Erica?

- So those dollars, many of them coming to our area, how exactly could some of those funds be used locally?

MEGAN HICKEY: So one example is to identify and then train trusted members of the community to do door to door outreach, another example, bilingual outreach, Erica, to again, help increase vaccine acceptance.

- All right. Megan Hickey, thank you.