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Registered Nurse Ange Angarita prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Pamela Duenly, the President and CEO at Elmhurst Hospital on Dec. 12, 2020. The Pfizer vaccination was given to dozens of Edward-Elmhurst Health employee in the Oak Room at Elmhurst Hospital.

Manuel Martinez

Chicago Starts Vaccinating Long-Term Care Residents And Staff For COVID-19

Calling it a momentous day in the fight against COVID-19, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday the city has started vaccinating long-term care residents and staff, but is also sending vaccines to some outpatient providers in select communities where the virus has been raging.

Chicago has vaccinated more than 20,000 residents with a first dose as of Dec. 26, said Public Health Director Allison Arwady. Nearly all have been done in hospital settings for health care workers. The city has hundreds of thousands of health care workers, so there is still a ways to go, Arwady said, but “we are on track.”

The city is following the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention recommendations as to who they will vaccinate next, with so-called frontline essential workers — police, firefighters, teachers, bus drivers and others — and those aged 75 and over to come, officials said.

Chicago is getting both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with the first being concentrated at hospitals, where cold storage is available for them. All 35 hospitals in Chicago got vaccines in the first week, Arwady said.

Most of the 16,200 Moderna doses Chicago is receiving this week are going to long-term care facilities, Arwady said. The city started vaccinating at eight long-term care facilities Monday, will do 26 more Tuesday, and has 128 total facilities to get through, Arwady said.

The city has also been able to send some vaccines to federally-qualified community-based outpatient clinics, such as Esperanza Health Clinics, where officials held a press conference Monday. Staff members at the clinics will be vaccinated first.

“Workers at these facilities are overwhelming people of color and primarily serve people of color,” Lightfoot said.

That includes the Latinx community, she said, which has been disproportionately hit hard by COVID-19.

Down the line, the outpatient centers will be Chicago’s primary vaccinating partners when the city moves to protect older residents and frontline essential workers, Arwady said.

The city also is starting to set up a mass-vaccination site for health care workers at Malcolm X College, which will require appointments, Arwady said.

Angela Rozas O’Toole is a senior editor of government and politics for WBEZ. Follow her @AngelaRozas.

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