A day after the Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots for adults 65 and older, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new city-wide vaccination initiative.
The Protect Chicago 77 community engagement campaign aims to have 77% of Chicagoans aged 12 and over vaccinated at least partially by the end of the year.
âThe COVID 19 pandemic is still with us,â Lightfoot said at a press conference in Englewood Thursday morning. âThe Delta variant is still very present and it is deadly. So, we did not come out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination.
More than 1.6 million Chicagoans aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. Each Chicago zip code has at least half of the eligible Chicagoans – or those 12 and older – partially vaccinated, Dr Allison Arwady, the city’s health commissioner, said Thursday.
But vaccination rates in the 77 community areas vary. While places like Lincoln Square and Lake View are close to 80%, others like Austin or Chatham are below 60%.
Lightfoot said the city plans to work closely with trusted community sources to achieve the 77% vaccination rate goal. This includes Team Englewood, Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, and Community Organized Relief Effort.
Videos offering tips on how to talk to friends and family who are reluctant to get vaccinated will be part of the initiative, as will door-to-door campaigns to bring the vaccine to those who cannot or prefer. do not leave their home.
Arwady also said the city’s health department wanted this campaign to align with its work during flu season, including the new COVID-19 booster vaccine for those 65 and over.
“People can get the flu shot and the first or second [coronavirus] dose or booster at the same time, âshe said in the CDPH clinics.
As the flu season heats up, Arwady said his department would pay close attention to any strain on the healthcare system.
âOne of the reasons we are promoting the COVID vaccine for everyone is to help protect hospitals,â she said. âOur goal is to stay open and to do it safely. The things that I thought could change this conversation would be if we really saw things getting very out of hand, to the point of threatening our health care system. “
Cheyanne M. Daniels is a reporter for the Sun-Times via Report for America, a non-profit journalism program that aims to strengthen the newspaper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.