CHICAGO (CBS) — The city of Chicago will soon have a new group of people getting the word out about the COVID vaccine and how to get one.
The head of the Chicago Department of Public Health said the city will have “vaccine ambassadors” to help those who haven’t gotten their COVID shot.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Another Wave Of Downpours Coming Early Friday Morning
“I’m a vaccine ambassador everywhere I go. But our goal is to turn anyone in Chicago who wants to become a vaccine ambassador, we want to give some support in terms of doing that,” said Doctor Allison Arwady, Commissioner for the CDPH. “And we’ve partnered with a number of folks starting off with City Colleges of Chicago, in terms of doing this in a way that’s organized, and that will really bring the right information to Chicagoans.”
In order to be a vaccine ambassador, candidates must take a free online course offered by Malcolm X College,” said David Sanders, the CEO of Malcolm X College. “It only takes two hours to complete, but it will pay it forward in empowering our community to keep healthy.”
Click here for more information on how to become a vaccine ambassador and more information about the online course.
Sanders added “Chicago community members who complete this course will receive a certificate of completion and be recognized as trusted messengers of COVID-19 vaccine education. These trusted messengers will access to online to our online learning community, where they will have opportunities to connect with our vaccine ambassadors and receive support through additional training, stay involved in community health activities, and help the community move forward towards vaccination.”
Arwady said parents and guardians with children over the age of 12 should get them the COVID vaccine when it’s available later this week.
On Tuesday, it was announced the Chicago Department of Public Health announced it will make the shots available to children 12 and older at its mass vaccination sites on Thursday.
Doctor Allison Arwady, commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health said COVID cases in the city have not gone away, but there have been more than two million vaccine doses given so far.
She said she wants parents to get their kids vaccinated.
“The safety profile was great, the efficacy profile, meaning how protective the COVID vaccine was really, really good,” Arwady said. “I encourage all Chicagoans to really make sure you’re getting your kids vaccinated. You do, right now, at the beginning, need to be there in person. A parent or a guardian with any child 12 it up. Only the Pfizer vaccine is the one that we expect to be authorized.”
What can people expect on Thursday?
According to Arwady, people will be getting the Pfizer vaccine, one of two needed for complete vaccine efficacy.
“You would get the first dose as early as Thursday. And then you would need to bring the child back three weeks later, for the second dose, the you will come to any of the sites, whether it’s one of the large sites, whether it’s the drive thru site at the United Center, whether you’re walking into your pharmacy, whether you’re going to your pediatrician, you’ll need to go with your child,” Arwady said.
She the adult also needs to sign paperwork approving of the child getting a COVID vaccine.READ MORE: Frank Pietrangelo, Hero Of 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Says He Was Among Those Sexually Abused By Hockey Coach Tom 'Chico' Adrahtas
“We’re making a special effort to make sure to talk to the children directly, and see if they have any questions in advance,” Arwady said. “We’re encouraging people to bring whole families in in terms of getting folks vaccinated. Then your child would be get the same vaccine card that an adult would receive.”
Arwady said the sites will take both walk-in appointments and those made ahead of time through Zocdoc.com. But Arwady encouraged people to make their reservations online.
She added that the city still needs to see more seniors getting their COVID vaccine.
“It’s the one area that Chicago is still lagging in,” Arwady said. “And I worry because we’re seeing severe outcomes in those groups.”
Doctor Arwady said the city is kicking off a vaccine ambassadors program for volunteers to go into communities, provide information on questions surrounding the COVID vaccine and how to go about getting vaccinated.
She said more people in the city still need to get the COVID shot, especially the communities hardest hit at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We’re seeing the effects of vaccination. We have lower vaccination rates overall among Black Chicagoans, especially younger Black Chicagoans,” Arwady said. “And we are seeing higher hospitalization rates in that group.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, and the CDC is expected to grant full approval on Wednesday. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for anyone age 16 and older.
Seven city-operated mass vaccination sites will begin offering the Pfizer vaccine to anyone in that age group starting Thursday, although children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
According to the city’s health department, the positivity rate in Chicago is 4.1%, which is down from 4.5% from the previous week.
Officials from the Chicago Department of Public Health and City Colleges of Chicago announce the launch of a Vaccine Education Ambassador program. Dr. Allison Arwady will also provide a COVID and vaccine data update. #ProtectChicago https://t.co/CaEaU8aZ5x https://t.co/gVfxq8m4o8
— ChiPublicHealth (@ChiPublicHealth) May 11, 2021MORE NEWS: Shane Jason Woods Of Downstate Auburn, Illinois Charged In Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection