CHICAGO (CBS) — There are more places than ever across Illinois to get the COVID-19 vaccine after hundreds of sites were added in just 24 hours. But the most vulnerable in hard-hit communities still might not have access.
Independent pharmacies say they give people the best chance to get the shot. Three hundred more retail pharmacy sites opened Thursday, but there are some mom and pop shops that cannot get doses even though they say they are the best option to reach people.READ MORE: 5 Killed, 18 Wounded In Chicago Weekend Shootings
Hani Abdallah’s pharmacy on Chicago’s Southwest Side is going on more than 20 years of service, but it’s unclear when he will be able to help his customers with the one service that’s arguably the biggest.
“It’s important that independents should be definitely counted in getting that vaccine,” said Abdallah, a pharmacist at Elsdon Medical Pharmacy. “As independent pharmacists, we go the extra mile with our customers.”
The calls from patients age 65 and over come in daily. There’s a list of about 100 of them wanting the COVID-19 vaccine, many of whom don’t have internet to sign up at a big pharmacy chain, or they want a familiar face to give them the shot.
“And that trust is the biggest thing,” Abdallah said. “They definitely trust us more than anything. They talk to us on a daily basis. We are part of their family.”
Abdallah applied to get doses last year, but so so far has had no response. He is not alone, as some other small pharmacies say the same.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Colder And Blustery Sunday Night
The City of Chicago and State of Illinois continue to tout places like Walgreens, Jewel-Osco, and Walmart as places to go. There are more than 850 vaccination sites across the state.
A Chicago Costco started offering shots Thursday with all appointments online, but Abdallah’s store hopes to set up appointments by phone.
“Where we say, ‘Ms. Jones, we’ve got it. Can you come in for your time? We’ll try to make it convenient,'” he said.
Local shops could make it easier for some people to walk. This pharmacy has its workers educated and ready to deliver doses.
The thinking around keeping each shot cold is already done. Now, it’s just the wait as many smaller shops anxiously wait to make a big impact in the COVID fight.MORE NEWS: Shedd Aquarium Asks Restaurants To Help Keep Plastic Out Of Great Lakes
The federal government is also working with a list of sites, but it is unclear how the state and city plan to integrate smaller pharmacies into their plans.