CHICAGO (CBS) — The first 23,000 doses of the coveted COVID-19 vaccine arrive next week in Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said frontline health care workers are the first to get the shot. Lightfoot cautioned that this vaccine will require two shots to be effective.

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“This will be for health care workers who treat COVID-19 patients, or who conduct health and medical procedures that put them at high risk for the virus,” Lightfoot said. “Each of Chicago’s 34 hospitals will have the vaccine, and our support and its distribution.”

Lightfoot added that there will be vaccine clinics for those getting the shots in the first round. But it will be by appointment only.

“Following that delivery of that first round, we’ll be opening vaccination clinics for health care workers by appointment only in late December, and into early January. I want to emphasize this is going to be appointment only. We don’t want people randomly showing up and thinking that they couldn’t get the vaccine,” Lightfoot said. “We also expect to receive additional doses of the vaccine, every week and could have over 100,000 doses.”

 

Doctor Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health said the number of COVID cases are still on the rise in the city and that people should not let down their guard despite the news of a vaccine coming soon to the city.

“The risk is not gone and we need to turn this increase around again in Chicago. Similarly, our test positivity across the city is now at 13.3%. That means about 13% of the tests that we’re doing are coming back positive,” Arwady said. “That’s a little bit better than we were at the peak again mid November where we were at 16%, but we’ve gotten as low as about 11%, and now we’re seeing it start to pick back up again.”

Arwady echoed Lightfoot’s enthusiasm regarding the vaccine coming to Chicago before the end of the month.

“Tomorrow (Thursday), the FDA will be meeting the advisory committee to consider what’s called the emergency use authorization application from Pfizer. Pfizer has created a vaccine, and the FDA is looking at all of the safety and efficacy data that the company had to submit and the FDA will make a decision about whether to grant this authorization,” Arwady said. “The second step is after the FDA makes its recommendation, the CDC has to make its recommendation through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. They will be meeting if the FDA grants the emergency use authorization on Thursday or Friday or Saturday.”

The mayor said while the first doses of the COVID vaccine will be in Chicago within the next week, it will be months before most Chicago residents will be able to get the vaccine.

“Wear your mask. It’s not political, it’s about saving lives socially distance, wash your hands regularly and stay at home and avoid travel, if at all possible. These are critical things that we now know through a lot of data, a lot of anecdotal evidence, are the kinds of things that actually save lives. This is going to be as essential as we move into the next phase of this pandemic. And it’s going to be essential to get our kids back in school, to make sure that our businesses can reopen. That our economy will start to revitalize itself,” Lightfoot said.

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Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) added that the distribution of the vaccine will be distributed equally, specifically to communities of color who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

“I want to make sure that people understand that the dissemination of the vaccine is going to be done. First from the federal level to the cities. But most importantly, the cities will maintain directives on how it’s going to be distributed locally,” Sawyer said. “And we want to make sure and we know that the mayor and her staff and everyone here, all of us together will make sure that equity is a part of the distribution of the vaccine. There will be a lens of equity to make sure that those that are most enabled.”

“The vaccine development represents a long-awaited milestone in Chicago’s – and the nation’s – fight against COVID-19, and we look forward to working with our citywide partners to ensure the distribution process is executed as efficiently and safely as possible through an equity lens,” Lightfoot said. “However, as encouraged as we are by the COVID-19 vaccine, widespread community distribution is still months away, and we must remain diligent in adhering to the public health guidelines as we continue to move forward toward a brighter and more resilient future for all of us.”

Doctor Arwady said the rollout will be monitored by the city and that people will be notified as to when a vaccine will be available to them in their community.

“The city will definitely be tracking, if you get both shots because to have the protection of the vaccine. These early vaccines at least you do need to get the two shots and there was some information for example on that release from Pfizer that said, people who had only gotten one dose of the vaccine were about 50% protected and people who had gotten two doses were 95% effective,” Arwady said. “So we are definitely motivated to make sure people get that second dose. We’re using a text messaging based system and some of that is being coordinated federally so people will have the opportunity to report out if they’re having any side effects if there’s any issues, but it also allows us to do some direct communication around.”

The head of the CDPH said vaccines will most likely be distributed through employers.

“Where we’re talking about essential workers, we will be working with some of the large employers, and then actually doing some work to align them with people who can vaccinate so that many people will likely be able to receive vaccination, even at work. That’s similar with the hospitals. “They know who their employers are. Once we’re moving more into general public, I think there will be a couple of things we will be working as soon as we are able to push vaccine to partners. Our full goal is to push this vaccine to as many vaccinating partners as we can.”

Lightfoot added that people will not be in the dark as to when a COVID vaccine will be available to them and that the city is using different types of technology to get people the vaccine information they need.

“We’re looking at different apps and software programs for folks to be able to keep track themselves. But we are, I expect that we were going to be working and continue to work not only with the hospitals once we get through that. But we’re going to be doing a massive communications and messaging campaign to let people know, essentially when they’re next up in the queue,” Lightfoot said.

 

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