Chicago COVID: Loretto Hospital apologizes for vaccinating judges, spouses out of turn

City health officials say hospital will not receive more 1st doses until issue solved
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Loretto doctors injected the city's very first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but now the West Side hospital is apologizing for the second time this week for giving people the shots out of turn.

This time, hospital staff confirms some Cook County judges and their spouses received the shot, despite not yet being eligible.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the hospital said in part, "No judges were officially 'invited' or 'prioritized' by the hospital for vaccinations. Any vaccinations that did take place were indicative of an existing level of confusion among medical teams at Loretto and other facilities regarding the nuances and differences between the City and State's 1B and 1B+ eligibility requirements as they applied to 'elected officials.'"

RELATED: 72 Trump Tower employees mistakenly vaccinated by Loretto Hospital

"I'm very disappointed that the judges came to the Austin area where they're not living and they don't reside," said State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-IL 8).

The City of Chicago is currently in the 1B phase of vaccinations, which includes six different categories of frontline essential workers. According to those guidelines, none of those categories include judges, though it does include "continuity of government and postal workers."

"We obviously want to make sure people are being vaccinated when it's their turn," said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

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"My direction to the [hospital] president is refocus the attention and you cannot save the world. Your job is to take care of the Austin community and you have to turn people away," Rep. Ford said.

A spokesman for Chief Judge Timothy Evans released a statement saying in part, "Judges who have received the shots were informed that the vaccines were already mixed and would be destroyed if not used by the end of the day, so they could get shots after 3:30 p.m., supply permitting. The Loretto Hospital website makes clear that COVID-19 vaccinations are given up until 3 p.m., so shots given after this would be surplus. Judges who received shots did not take shots away from other eligible persons, but used shots that would otherwise have been destroyed."

This is the second reported vaccine priority failure at the hospital, after Loretto admitted to recently vaccinating 72 Trump Tower employees at a private event.

"They know it was a mistake," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "I've asked Dr. Harvey to dig deeper, to make sure that in the quota phrase to trust but verify.

"We have had conversations with Loretto Hospital related to that event, and we have asked for some more details related to who was vaccinated," Arwady said. "You know, Loretto has noted that their intent was to vaccinate hotel workers and hotel workers are not eligible at this time. They do become eligible under 1C on the 29th of March, and they have noted that there was apparently some confusion over that fact."

As a result, city health officials said Loretto "will not receive first doses until we can confirm their vaccination strategies and reporting practices meet all Chicago Department of Public Health requirements."

According to the city's COVID dashboard, only 13.4% of people in 60644, Loretto's zip code, have gotten their first dose. Chicago's citywide average is just under 20 percent.
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