CHICAGO (CBS) — The state’s top doctor and Chicago’s top physician joined the U.S. Surgeon General to talk about the rollout of the COVID vaccine and how it’s necessary for people to get the shot to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Next week, mass vaccine sites will be open to health care workers, by appointment only.

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Doctor Ngozi Ezike with the IDPH and Doctor Allison Arwady, the head of the CDPH visited St. Anthony’s Hospital to watch people get COVID vaccines. They discussed the COVID vaccine making its way through hospitals across the state, as Doctor Ezike said “talking about the next steps in this important last leg of this very serious super marathon.”

Doctor Arwady noted Phase 1-A, from December, January and entering into February will be focused on health care workers first to get covered and soon afterwards longterm care facilities.

“That does includes behavioral health care workers, dentists and everybody who works in dentists’ offices, morticians, people who are doing health care in correctional settings or in homeless shelters. It includes urgent care includes testing centers. It includes home health aides. If you are a health care worker in the city of Chicago, you are in Phase 1-A and we will be working starting from next week to add you to the ongoing work with hospitals,” Arwady said. “So we’ve really been pleased with how this has started here in the city and we’ll be moving on, as we as we look ahead.

Confirming what Doctor Ezike said last week, Arwady said there are no microchips or other ingredients promoted by conspiracy theorists, in the COVID vaccine.

“The active ingredient is called messenger RNA (mRNA) and you’ve heard us talk a lot about that. There are four different salts. One of them is just sodium chloride like table salt, that helps make sure that the vaccine is at the right pH and interfaces with your body. And there’s one sugar, sucrose, like like the same sugar you would put in your cereal, that helps keep the fat from sticking together,” Arwady said.

“No antibiotics in the vaccine, no preservatives in the vaccine, meaning no Mercury,” added Arwady. There are no blood products there are no pork products. There are no fetal cells of any kind, and there are no microchips or nanotechnology.”

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams got to see people get vaccinated and watch health care workers “bust their tails” providing top notch care to those suffering from the coronavirus.

“The finish line is in sight. And that makes this search different than the other searches, because we know there’s an endpoint,” Adams said.

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“The hardest part of a marathon is the last couple of miles. This has been a marathon in 2020, but the finish line is in sight and we can’t afford to stop running,” he added.

Doctor Adams said information about a new mutation of the coronavirus found in the United Kingdom is still coming in but there is no indication that the new variant will respond to a vaccine.

“The most important thing that we can do is to double down on our public health measures. One of the things we are considering is working with the airlines to encourage testing of people before they get on flights,” Adams said. “But if we continue to follow the public health measures that are out there, and that the people in Illinois are increasingly doing a better and better job, whatever this variant is, we will be able to defeat it.”

Adams said concerns from communities of color about vaccinations are real, and based in history where the federal government conducted experiments on Black men decades ago.

“I think we have to be a little more sympathetic and where we can be a lot more empathetic. I want people to understand, they’ve heard about the Tuskegee experiments, but a lot of people don’t know the details. In 1932 the federal government started a study where they were looking to see the impacts of syphilis on African American men. And they signed people up for the study with the promise of free health care. Fifteen years into the study, penicillin was determined to be a cure for syphilis and they had the option of treating these men, and they chose not to treat these men,” Adams said.

He added that the study went for 40 years and that the African American men were not treated. And this study went along for 40 years, with several surgeons general at the helm Caucasian gentlemen. And these men went untreated.

“This is just truly horrific. And this is why people of color, don’t trust the government, don’t trust medical institutions, in many cases, it comes from a real place and we have to acknowledge that,” Adams said, who added that there’s no way that incident could ever happen again.

“This COVID vaccine was developed in part by an African American woman at the National Institutes of Health. There were people enrolled in the studies, who were Black and Brown Hispanic, African American, Native American,” Adams said. “All of these are reasons why I feel safe in this with this vaccine, and why I feel that I’m studying like Tuskegee could never happen again and certainly isn’t happening in this instance, when we need to engage with trusted community partners, and lead by example.”

So we’re working with faith leaders because we know in many cases people will do something because their pastor their rabbi or imam says to do it, even if they won’t do it because the Surgeon General says to do it. We know that people trust their local doctor, or their local nurse or their local pharmacist and we need to make sure they have the facts. These are trusted community gatekeepers, so that they can help the people who trust them feel confident in the vaccine,” Adams said. “Then we need to let them see people of color getting vaccinated again. It’s why I got vaccinated publicly.”

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff