COVID-19 vaccine Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot launches new initiative, combining faith and science, to promote COVID vaccination equity

Vaccine Faith Initiative part of Walgreens' nationwide push to bring more shots to underserved communities
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new COVID-19 vaccine initiative is launching Saturday in Chicago.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others kicked off the Vaccine Faith Initiative at 9 a.m.

"You can't talk about the Black community and not talk about the church," she said.

WATCH: Mayor Lightfoot discusses new COVID vaccine initiative

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Mayor Lightfoot introduced a new COVID vaccine initiative Saturday.

This is part of the city's push for equity in vaccine distribution.

"As vaccine supply continues to expand, we add on to what we've already been doing," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The mayor was joined by leaders from Walgreens' parent company to kick off the new initiative, aiming to vaccinate over 10,000 people from more than 70 houses of worship in the next three weeks.

Clinics are taking place at four city churches Saturday, including JLM Abundant Life Center in Garfield Park.

RELATED: Illinois COVID-19 Update: IL reports 4,004 new coronavirus cases, 21 deaths, record-high vaccine doses

This is part of a nationwide push by Walgreens Boots Alliance to bring more vaccine to underserved Black and Latinx communities.

"I think generally some people just don't go to doctor, don't take shots; I don't know what the root cause behind all that is," Riverdale resident Fitz Miller said. "I'm glad it being offered, and it was an easy process. I saw all walks of life, every race in here."

Miller lives in south suburban Riverdale, but he said he was able to get an appointment at JLM Saturday after initially having some vaccine hesitancy.

"I wasn't really scared of that, just wanted to see if any side effects would exist," he said. "(It's) worth the risk; I wanted to see mom. She's 86 and I'd do anything to take that."

Now Mayor Lightfoot is imploring faith leaders to reach out to young congregants, especially Black adults ages 18 to 39.

"That is the one group where we're not seeing the kind of uptick that we need for vaccine," she said.

And the mayor once again stressed that these vaccines are safe, as she thanked the people getting their shots, for taking care of themselves and their families.
White non-Latinx residents have received a much higher percent of first doses compared to Black non-latinx residents in Chicago, city data from as recently as March 30 show.

This disparity occurred even though all three groups make up roughly equal shares of the Chicago population, according to the city.

The clinic runs until noon and is meant for church members and nearby residents, so it is not open to the general public.
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