Chicago takes new approach to vaccinate hard-to-reach residents as mass vaccination sites close

City held beach pop-up vaccination clinics on Memorial Day
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Health Department is hoping people off work for Memorial Day can get vaccinated while they are out and about.

The city held pop-up vaccination sites at 31st Street Beach and North Avenue Beach from 1-4 p.m. and at the 95th Street CTA Station from 12-5 p.m.

This comes as Chicago shifts its COVID-19 vaccine strategy to bring pop-up vaccination sites into the community where people are out and about and having fun this holiday weekend, placing some of the pop-ups in areas where populations have been hesitant to get the shot. The goal is to make it as quick and convenient as possible.

"I think it's nice because a lot of people do take the CTA, so it's like get the shot before I go on the train. I like the idea," said Nolan Adams, who received the vaccine Monday.

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Adams, 17, is taking advantage of a City of Chicago pop-up mobile vaccination sites where buses are converted into shot centers. It's where nursing student Hadeel Maadi has been spending her time administering the vaccine.

"The feedback from a lot of people that come on the buses say if they weren't there, they would not have gained access to it," Maadi said.

With mass vaccination centers closing, the city has changed its strategy by bringing mobile vaccination buses into the neighborhoods.

"It's easier because you can just walk right up, you don't have to make an appointment, you don't have to do all that extra stuff," Adams said.

Just over 50% of Chicagoans have received the first dose, but the rate is much lower among African-Americans.

"I was not going to get it, but since it was close to home, I decided to come out," said Belinda King, who walked from her South Side home to 31st Street Beach to get her shot.

"It was right down the street and I said I haven't gotten it, and I thought it was time," said Anthony Cooper, who is also now vaccinated.

"I got the Johnson & Johnson. I'd rather do it one time instead of going on different occasions. It wasn't as bad as I projected it to be," added another participant.

The vaccination buses will continue to pop up during the next few weeks at sites and neighborhoods, especially areas with low vaccination rates.

"My relatives told me I couldn't come to their home, and I'm going on vacation and if I wanted to visit my family members, they wanted me to have the shot," said Borah Siggers.

Chicago's Department of Public Health is hoping its hyper-local and convenient strategy will help the city reach the national goal of having 70% of the population vaccinated by July 4.

Saturday's closure at Wrigley Field marked the end of a two-month effort, in partnership with Advocate Aurora Health and the Chicago Cubs, that delivered more than 42,000 vaccine doses to Chicagoans - more than the capacity of Wrigley Field itself, city officials said. Aurora Health will redeploy resources to support hyperlocal, community-based vaccination efforts, including staffing the city's mobile vaccine buses - the Vaccination Station - that allow residents to get vaccinated without leaving their neighborhood.

Patients with appointments scheduled at Gallagher Way after Saturday have been contacted, and their appointments have been relocated to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, less than a mile from Wrigley Field.

For more information on vaccine events coming up, visit chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid19-vaccine/home/calendar-of-events.html.
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