CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago opened its first mass vaccination clinic Tuesday morning at Malcolm X College on the Near West Side.
This supersite will allow the city to step its push to protect healthcare workers against COVID-19. The site will only focus on non-hospital-affiliated healthcare workers and require an appointment. It is not open to the public.
"I honestly can't feel it," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health.
Arwady said there was no jumping ahead of the line for her As an out patient health care worker, she and thousands of other health care workers not in hospital qualify for the vaccine.
Also among those to get vaccinated is Chris Ballinger who treats COVID-19 patients at Physicians Immediate Care.
"Recently, we've had an uptick of patients, so it's nice to finally get to this point," said Ballinger.
Ballinger said he had no hesitation taking the vaccine. Neither di Dr. Florence Roche, who also works at immediate care facilities.
"It's a start, it's always good to be hopeful and have a sense of the right direction," said Roche.
"The first thing is to make sure that your practice has already registered with the city of Chicago, that can be a dental practice, out patient, school, nurse." said Arwady.
After registration, the city sends a code in order to make an appointment. Once vaccinate, the city follows up with text messages asking about any side effects.
Dr. Arwady said it's a process that is likelyl to take the next couple of months. She does not expect vaccinations to begin with the next group (1B) for several weeks. For teachers, it may be longer.
"If I had to put a timeline, it would be Spring, March April time we, it depends on how much vaccine we get," said Arwady.
Before the supersite, the city reserved the vaccine for staff in hospitals. However, public health officials began distributing vaccines to nursing homes and community healthcare workers Monday.
As part of Chicago's focus on equity, some of the first Moderna vaccine doses were given at Esperanza Health in Brighton Park, a neighborhood with a test positivity rate that is more than double the citywide average.
"Portions of the Latinx community remain in crisis, and I want to make sure we don't lose sight of that," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
Wentworth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Englewood was the first long-term care facility in Chicago to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as the city continues to reassure minority communities that the vaccine is safe.
Dr. Arwady said healthcare workers and long-term care facilities will continue to get the vaccine all of January and likely most of February. In the spring, vaccination will move to older Chicagoans and essential workers.
More than 20,000 vaccinations have been administered to healthcare workers at Chicago hospitals.