Austin neighborhood teachers, educators get COVID-19 vaccine at Loretto Hospital

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dozens of teachers and educators got their COVID-19 vaccination Saturday.

"I'm relieved. I'm at peace, so yeah, I think that it's going to be great, it's going to be great. I'm excited for this opportunity," said Pastor Christopher Montgomery, after school employee.

Around 80 teachers and staff at By The Hand Club For Kids and Moving Everest Charter School were able to get their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

"We thought it was really important to protect our kids first of all and to protect our families but most importantly to protect each other," said Connie Giere, By The Hand For Kids operations director.

The Austin neighborhood has been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 and is listed in the top 15 most vulnerable communities, according to Chicago's COVID-19 vulnerability index.

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"Austin community was one of the communities that was hardest hit by the COVID pandemic, so to do activities like this, to come to places like this and do mass vaccination efforts is huge," said Dr. Heather Bergdahl, Loretto Hospital.

This group of teachers and educators is among the first of the city's West Side to receive a shot after State Rep. La Shawn Ford connected the organizations with Loretto Hospital. The hospital has been administrating vaccine to numerous community groups and eligible 1A and 1B individuals on an ongoing basis.

"We have to make sure that we vaccinate people on the West Side of Chicago and in high risk communities, so that we can have more opportunities for people to see that its okay to take the vaccine," Ford said.

High demand and low supply are factors along with reluctance to take the vaccine for many people including Alleda McDowell, a lunchroom workers whose husband, L.C. McDowell, 60, died in December due to COVID-19.

"I wasn't going to take the shot, and then, when he caught it in the hospital, then, I decided well, I better go take it," McDowell said.

Educators will be back at a mass vaccination site for their second dose on Mar. 6 but will not have full immunity until two weeks after that.
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