COVID vaccine: Mass vaccination site helps vulnerable community get 1st dose on West Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- West Side pastor Reverend Marvin Hunter and his wife Terri are hoping to set a good example for their community by getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

"We have to do something," said Rev. Hunter with Grace Memorial MB Church. "To do nothing is very irresponsible."

Barbara Lowe is also trying to get vaccinated after trying and failing for weeks at scheduling the shot online.

"It's really hard to navigate, and it times out and you have to start all over again," Lowe said.

Pre-registered residents were able to get their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine for free Saturday.

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"I work in law enforcement, so I just asked and they said, 'let's see if we can get you in,' and I got in," said Carmen Rivera.

It happened at a mass vaccination event, which was sponsored by several health care providers, the faith community and United States Congressman Danny Davis.

"Hopefully, by the end of the day we would have provided vaccine for one thousand residents," said the 7th District Congressman.

Staff from Prism Holistic Health Care administered the vaccines.

According to Chicago's COVID-19 Vulnerability Index, the Austin neighborhood is listed in the top 15 most vulnerable communities.

Part of the reason why is, for the second time, the vaccinations were done by The Hand Club for Kids on the city's West Side.

"Each time we do so we see the number of people comfortable taking the vaccine increasing," said Donnita Travis, By The Hand Club founder and CEO.

Those who showed up said medical mistrust has caused reluctance among some people of color to take the vaccine.

"We're going to the communities where those disparities exist today and that's why Near North is here," said Berneice Mills-Thomas with Near North Health Service Corporation.

Now, after they get their shots, folks at the vaccination site had to wait about 20 to 30 minutes to make they have no adverse reactions, then they will come back in about three weeks to get their second dose.

Essential worker Charman Dortch is looking forward to that.

"So let's all get our shots and we can get back to somewhat normal," she said.
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