CHICAGO — This week marked two years since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the city of Chicago.

Since Dec. 15, 2020, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allision Arwady says more than 5.6 million vaccines have been given across the city, paving the way in its fight against the virus. 

“There were more than 50 Chicagoans dying every day from COVID,” she said. “We had almost 8,000 Chicago residents lose their life from COVID. But once we got the vaccine two years ago, we had the most important tool to protect against hospitalizations and protect against death.”

But COVID, Arwady says, is far from over.  

“We have seen an increase in COVID, which is continuing,” she said.  

Dr. Arwady and doctors from Lurie Children’s Hospital came together on Thursday afternoon to urge Chicagoans to get vaccinated as respiratory illnesses, including the coronavirus, the flu, and RSV, have been overwhelming local hospitals. 

Recent data shows about 87% of hospital beds are in use across Chicago. 

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“Over the last week or 10 days, we have seen a decrease in RSV infections which has reduced the pressure on hospitals somewhat. However, we are concerned about the rising numbers of cases of influenza,” said Dr. Matthew Davis with the Lurie Children’s Hospital. “So along with the city, we’re monitoring the availability of beds in the city for children and adults, especially as the numbers for COVID infections increase among adults in particular.” 

Health officials added that while they haven’t felt the same stress as in previous parts of the pandemic, they recommend that people get boosted or vaccinated. 

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The plea comes on the heels of the federal government authorizing the COVID-19 shot for children six months of age or younger.  

“If we are safe, healthy and protected, we can do the things we love to do,” added Dr. Larry Kociolek with Lurie Children’s Hospital. 

For additional COVID-19 information, visit Chicago.gov/COVID.