CHICAGO (CBS) —  If you thought a COVID-19 vaccine was months away, and you could finally stop wearing faces masks, think again.

The coronavirus is going to be with us for some time, according to Doctor Allison Arwady, the Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health. She said she’s encouraged by work being done with vaccine trials, but it’s a long way between finalizing a vaccine, making sure it works and then getting it to millions of people.

READ MORE: RealTime Weather Alert: Wet And Windy Through Monday Morning, Flooding Possible

“This is going to be a couple of years, realistically,” Arwady said. She added that if a vaccine becomes available, there will be an order of who gets it first.

“This is going to be prioritized. It’ll be available probably for healthcare workers depending on how the trials play out. There will be some prioritization likely of you know older people who we certainly know have been at the highest risk,” Arwady said. “It probably won’t be available for kids right at the beginning. There will be additional trials for women who are pregnant that needs to happen. It’s going to be a process, even after a vaccine is available.”

She said COVID-19 protective measures will not go away.

“We are going to need to continue to protect each other. So masks are with us,” Arwady said. And that the city is making COVID-19 plans into the future.

READ MORE: Man, Woman Shot In Vehicle On Kedzie Avenue In East Garfield Park, Go On To Crash In Humboldt Park With Child In Car

“If COVID were going to be over in a month or two, this would be an easy decision. Of course we would we would we would all hunker down and wait two months, but it’s not. At the health department we’re planning two to three years where we think about sort of the COVID response and throughout that whole time,” Arwady said. “The vaccines are not going to be 100% protective most likely. And even as more folks are getting vaccinated there probably will be some people who decide not to vaccinate.”

For the seventh day in a row, Illinois reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases, amid a three-week low in testing for the virus. The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced 1,076 new confirmed cases of coronavirus including 30 additional confirmed deaths.

“I wish I could say that COVID were going to be over shortly, but it’s not,” Arwady said. “And us doing everything we can do to support folks who are at higher risk, not have an outbreak that’s out of control lets us be more open and have more possibility for the things that everybody enjoys here in Chicago.”


MORE NEWS: Riggs, Kenosha County Sheriff's K-9 Shot By Chicago Homicide Suspect, Is Released From Veterinary Hospital To Applause


CBS 2 Chicago Staff