City starts laying out plan for vaccine rollout

December 10, 2020
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Geraldine Luna, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 response, presented parts of the city’s plan for vaccine distribution this week to a group of about 50 people at the Leaders Network monthly meeting.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet to consider emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine today – Dec. 10 – and Moderna’s on Dec. 17.

If both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve the vaccines, Chicago would receive its first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as early as next week and Moderna’s the week after, Luna said.

Illinois is slated to receive a total of 109,000 doses in the first allocation of the vaccine, with 23,000 of those going to Chicago.

In a press release Wednesday, the mayor’s office said it expects all 34 Chicago hospitals to receive doses from the first allocation, which will go to frontline health care workers.

Both vaccines require two doses, and “both doses have to be from same product. No mix and match,” Luna said.

The second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine is administered 21 days after the first shot and 28 days for Moderna’s vaccine.

All 23,000 doses in the initial allocation will be used for the first dose, Luna said.

Wednesday, at his daily coronavirus briefing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said both companies had committed to not shipping their initial doses until they had a second dose ready to ship, to ensure everyone who receives the vaccine is able to get both doses.

The vaccines will be distributed in four phases. The city’s plan is based on guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

“We want to make sure it’s based on risk and not a privileged population getting the vaccines and the other [less privileged population] waiting,” Luna said.

“The goal is for all Chicago adults to be able to get vaccinated in 2021 at no cost to any individual,” according to Wednesday’s press release.

Phase One prioritizes health workers who interact directly with COVID-19 patients; followed by first responders, including police and corrections officers; those with high-risk medical conditions; and seniors living in long-term care facilities.

Phase Two focuses on essential workers, including teachers; those who have underlying conditions that put them at moderately high risk of contracting virus; the homeless; those with disabilities; the incarcerated; and staff who work in those settings.

Phase Three gets the vaccine to young adults; children; and people working in sectors “important to the functioning of society and at an increased risk of exposure not included in Phase One or Two,” according to the plan shown at Tuesday’s Leaders Network meeting.

Phase Four is for everyone who didn’t receive the vaccine in previous phases.

Rev. Lindsey Joyce asked why corrections officers are slated to receive the vaccine before prison staff and inmates.

That’s based on risk, Luna said. The groups advising the government on this “believe staff taking care of incarcerated people are a higher risk of getting COVID-19 from an infected individual than inmates. And it’s based on the data of outbreaks,” she said.

The Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church asked Luna how the city would address the mistrust in vaccines held by many in the African American community “considering the morbid history of abuse and exploitation of African Americans with vaccines in this country.”

A Pew Research survey, published Dec. 3, found only 42% of African Americans would choose to get the vaccine.

The city is reaching out to community ambassadors, partners and organizations, like Rev. Acree’s church, to help educate their communities and encourage them to get vaccinated.

“If we don’t vaccinate our members, we will never get rid of this disease and mortality related to it,” she said.

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