Chicago ramping up vaccination efforts as Feds say states should use all available doses


CHICAGO — Vaccination efforts are starting to ramp up in Chicago as the federal government is urging states to speed up distribution Tuesday.

So far nearly 870,000 vaccine doses have been delivered to Illinois, but only 40% have been administered. In Chicago, more than 54,000 first doses have been administered to residents and more than 13,000 have received their final second dose.

As the state prepares to move on to Phase 1B, Chicago Department of Public Health Director Dr. Alison Arwady said doses have already been set aside for the city’s long-term care facilities and Chicago is ready to take the next step as well. 

The next phase includes anyone 65 and older, and frontline essential workers like first responders, teachers, postal workers, transit employees, grocery and agricultural workers.

“This works like airplane boarding If you’ve missed your call to get on the plane, you haven’t missed your opportunity before the plane takes off,” Arwady said.

The Trump administration is asking states to stop holding back second doses needed to complete vaccinations in order to speed up distribution, saying production has ramped up and is now predictable enough to use what’s on hand as more shipments go out each week.

“Every day… we’re getting different information from the federal government,” Arwady said. “It is looking promising but I want to see actual doses allocated to the City of Chicago.”

Arwady said 90% of vaccines will be given through partner hospitals, providers, and pharmacies. In addition to CVS and Walgreens, which are involved in federal vaccination efforts, the city is bringing Jewel Osco, Marianos and Walmart on as vaccine distribution partners as well. 

Arwady said the remaining 10% will be given at mass vaccination sites, including some at city colleges.

“I’m hopeful many people who were perhaps waiting to watch colleagues get vaccinated will raise their hands to get vaccines today,” Arwady said. 

Oak Street Health Executive Director Dr. Ali Khan said states are going to have to “move fast” to maximize the impact of the vaccines. Oak Street Health Network is stepping up to help vaccinate remaining Phase 1A health care workers.

“These are dentists, home health workers, therapists, nurses…the silent majority who are not affiliated with big medical centers worrying alone how to get access to this vaccine,” Khan said.

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