Chicago COVID-19 vaccine update: 6 mass vaccination sites open next week, Lightfoot says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If you're a health care worker in a non-hospital setting, the city is expanding its vaccination sites to several city college locations around Chicago. While there are growing calls to move faster, the city remains focused on Phase 1A, which includes health care workers and long term care facilities.

There will be six mass COVID-19 vaccination sites opening by next week in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and top doctor Allison Arwady said in a press conference Thursday morning.

"It is critical that we keep our medical infrastructure as protected as we are able to move ahead," Arwady said.

Lightfoot and Arwady gave an update on vaccine distribution in the city and said the new sites will expand access to group 1A and extend its reach into 1B. She said the mass vaccination sites will be capable of getting 25,000 shots in arms each week.

They did not immediately provide details about where the sites would be.

WATCH: Mayor Lightfoot gives latest on COVID-19 vaccine


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Mayor Lori LIghfoot says Chicago will have six new mass vaccination sites by next week.



Starting next week, Chicago could start giving the vaccine to some at-risk patients who are 65 and older. The city's public health department said healthcare workers should still get first priority, but hospitals and outpatient centers will be allowed to give extra doses to people in the older, higher-risk group.

"We will be communicating with folks. They'll be able to sign up ahead of time to get a vaccination," Mayor Ligthfoot said.

"While we are still actively in phase 1A of vaccination ... our priority remains continued vaccination of healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, for those hospitals and outpatient sites that are enrolled as vaccine provider, beginning January 18th, if they have any unused vaccine, and they have not identified additional Tier 1A healthcare workers for vaccination, they may use unused doses to vaccinate their highest risk existing patients that are over 65 years old," Arwady said.

Lightfoot highlighted the vaccine's safety Thursday, especially speaking to communities of color.

"Equity isn't part of our COVID-19 strategy; equity is our COVID-19 strategy, and the location of these sites gives us the geographic breadth we need to reach more and more residents in a safe and equitable way," the mayor said.

But Lightfoot also said she's not happy with the federal allocation of vaccines the city is receiving.

She said it will take a year and a half for Chicago to get fully vaccinated at the current pace.

But before moving ahead, Lightofoot said the federal government must release more doses. However, some doctors on the front lines believe it's more important to get first doses into as many people as possible rather than hold vaccine back for others to get a second dose.

"We may exhaust our current supply of vaccine, that's ok, we need to gets shots in arms now," said Dr. Robert Citronberg, Advocate Aurora Health Infectious Disease Medical Director.

The federal government has promised to release more vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna have also said it will manufacture more while next month a 3rd vaccine may become available. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be a one dose inoculation with regular refrigeration.

"Johnson and Johnson has also promised to make billions of doses in a year, so ample supply," Citronberg said.

With more supply coming, some doctors urge the city and state to move into the next phase as soon as possible.

The city has already distributed over 74,000 doses, Arwady said, but that's only a fraction of Chicago healthcare workers in the top tier, many of whom are not counted toward the city's vaccination numbers because they live elsewhere.

Arwady said at this point, the general public still cannot sign up for vaccine appointments yet, but she is expecting that to come "very soon."

More information on COVID-19 vaccine access will be available at Chicago.gov/COVIDvax.

Chicago also announced changes to the city's COVID-19 travel order Tuesday, switching from a three-tier system to a two-tier system.

RELATED: Chicago COVID travel quarantine order reformatted to 2-tier system
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Instead f the Red-Orange-Yellow designations it's been using for months, Chciago announced it is reorganizing its travel order int a 2-tier system.



The previous travel order places states in three categories: red, orange and yellow. The new travel order, which will take effect on Friday, eliminates one of the tiers so there will now only be an orange tier and a yellow tier.

Travelers from states in the orange tier must either quarantine for 10 days or test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers from yellow states do not need to quarantine or test before arrival.

A state in the yellow tier has less than 15 daily cases per 100,000 people. States in the orange tier have more than 15 cases per 100,000 people.
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