CHICAGO – The City of Chicago has given Loretto Hospital’s vaccination clinic another shot to get more doses into neighborhoods hardest hit by the virus.
Chicago health officials announced last Friday they would reopen and manage the vaccine clinic at Loretto Hospital following the controversy surrounding vaccine distribution.
Last month, Block Club Chicago reported that several vaccination events were held outside the hospital, which primarily serves Black and Latino residents in West Side neighborhoods. Officials hope the move will get more vaccinations to the city’s most at-risk residents.
Loretto executives say they are grateful for the second chance. But changes have been made, according to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Longtime Austin resident Robert Johnson was among the first to get a vaccine at the newly re-opened Loretto hospital vaccine site, which is now being managed by the city’s Department of Public Health.
“I said ‘let me go head on get it out the way’ and it’s right up the street, so why not?” Johnson said.
Last month, the city paused delivery of the vaccine to Loretto after multiple reports of ineligible people, connected to hospital executives receiving vaccines. The scandal led to the resignation of Loretto’s chief operating officer and the hospital’s CEO being put on administrative leave.
“I was deeply disappointed in the way Loretto handled this precious vaccine,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
But after an internal audit found less than one percent of the hospital’s 16,000 vaccines were given to people deemed ineligible, the city decided to resume the clinic in hopes of increasing vaccine access on the West Side, which has been hard hit by the pandemic.
Loretto’s vaccination clinic site will be open exclusively to Austin residents.
Mayor Lightfoot says the hospital will not have cart blanche like before.
“We’ll be monitoring closely,” Lightfoot said. “Their access is now with tight constraints. I hope they’ve learned their lesson.”
“Its important to get access to the West side and Loretto plays an important role.”