COVID vaccine: Chicago opens vaccinations to all residents 16 and older Monday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Monday is a big day for COVID-19 vaccinations in Chicago as the city joins the rest of Illinois in allowing anyone 16 and older to get vaccinated.

Health officials say they still don't have enough doses for everyone who wants one. They're telling people to be patient.

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"Opening vaccine eligibility to all adults in Chicago is another important milestone in our goal of vaccinating everyone, and moving past the pandemic to reopen our city safely," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "I encourage everyone to get vaccinated, and everyone who wants a vaccine will receive one, but I want to remind people to be patient in getting an appointment, since our vaccine supply is still very limited."

Any Chicago resident who is 16 and older can look for appointments at zocdoc.com/vaccine or the Chicago's COVID-19 vaccine finder as well as calling the city's COVID-19 Help Line at (312) 746-4835. Vaccines are also available at Costco Pharmacies, CVS, Jewel Osco, Mariano's, and Walgreens.

"I am encouraged by our increased vaccination rates, but we also continue to see a slow and persistent increase in COVID-19 case counts, especially among younger Chicagoans," said Allison Arwady, M.D., Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "As we expand eligibility, we can increase vaccination for younger populations to slow the spread of the virus. Hopefully, our vaccine supply from the federal government will increase. We will continue to quickly use all the doses we receive."

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With Chicago joining the rest of Illinois in expanding vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older, Erie Family Health Centers are hearing from parents.



At Erie Family Health Centers' West Town clinic, demand for vaccine is only growing.

"I'm thinking about my family. Be safe for them, and also for the place I'm working right now," vaccine recipient Gloria Herrera said.

Now that Herrera has her first dose, she wanted to get her 16-year-old daughter an appointment as well - and she's not alone.

With Chicago joining the rest of Illinois in expanding vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older, Erie Family Health Centers are hearing from parents.

"Our sites with Pfizer are full this week, and so again the 16 and 17-year-olds have to get Pfizer. That's what they've been approved for so far, and all the places we have Pfizer are full this week already," said Dr. Sara Naureckas, Medical Dir. of Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, Erie Family Health.

The move to universal adult eligibility comes as Chicago reaches a milestone: more than half of city residents 18 and older have received at least one dose.
"Every adult is eligible. And it's my expectation as we start to get more vaccine, more and more people including younger people will get the vaccine," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

The timing of the vaccine expansion is critical, with young adults driving the recent rise in infections.

"Over the past month or so we've really seen those teenagers, those kind of 16 or 18 to 29 group that's really been impacting the pandemic," Dr. Michael Angarone, Northwestern Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist.

Though there's been anecdotal evidence many of those teens and young adults may be more reluctant than other groups to get vaccinated, that's not been the case at Erie Family Health Centers.

"And when I see the kids for their checkups, they're asking me how they can get it. We have people calling and asking for appointments with us," Naureckas said.

Though everyone 16 and older is now eligible, Erie Family Health centers said they will going to continue their targeted outreach to some of the folks who were eligible in phase 1B and 1C.
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