Chicago doctor pushes for more COVID vaccinations, proposes skipping phases of vaccine rollout plan

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some hospitals said Chicago should allow doctors to skip the phases of the rollout and start giving shots to their most vulnerable patients.

University of Chicago's Dr. Will Parker said it is unfair that he gets a second dose before his patients get their first shot.

"What I'm calling for is the city to use its available doses. The vaccine does nobody any good in the freezer. We need to get the needle in the arms," Dr. Parker said.

According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's data, Parker said about two-thirds of the vaccine is being held in reserve, waiting for healthcare workers in and out of hospitals to get their first dose. The vaccine hesitancy is also higher than the city expected.

"We still have more than 60,000 outpatient healthcare workers who need to be vaccinated. We still have many other congregate settings that are being vaccinated, and that is our focus this week," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner.

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Dr. Parker, a medical ethicist, said the city should start focusing on vaccinating as many people as possible. He called on the city to allow hospitals to move on to vulnerable patients and others rather than waiting for healthcare workers to get their doses.

"Overlap doesn't mean forget about phase 1A. It means do both at the same time," Dr. Parker said.

Some community hospitals moved forward on their own and began vaccinating people in other phases.

Rev. Jesse Jackson was vaccinated Friday at Roseland Hospital, where only 25% of employees have been vaccinated so far. Roseland is now giving the vaccination to first responders while continuing to encourage its own employees to take it.

About 60% percent of workers at University of Chicago Hospital are vaccinated, and Dr. Parker said it is time to move on.

"As an ICU physician sick of taking care of critically ill patients with COVID, I would love to be able to protect these people from getting this terrible disease, and it's frustrating," Dr. Parker said.
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