As health officials in Chicago continue to work on expanding availability and accessibility to the coronavirus vaccine, a unique initiative was launched on Saturday, as a Chicago Transit Authority bus was transformed into a mobile vaccination site in the city’s Austin neighborhood.
The initiative will aim to bring coronavirus vaccine doses to all areas of the city, and Saturday’s event saw a large turnout, including resident Maurice Cardine, who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“It’s just one shot, and I don’t like needles,” he said with a laugh.
Cardine admits he was on the fence about getting the shot, but says with the mobile vaccine bus coming to his neighborhood, he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I had an appointment to go to Chicago and Cicero on Monday, but I just came on down here because my mom has been wearing me down, telling me and my brothers to get it done, so I went and got it done,” he said.
The vaccine bus is part of the city’s latest efforts to get more residents vaccinated, especially in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the virus.
“We started with one bus, and we’ve been increasing to more and more buses,” Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner, said. “The focus right now is on ZIP codes where we’re not seeing as many people vaccinated.”
CDPH volunteers went door-to-door in the Austin neighborhood Saturday, speaking with residents, passing out information and telling people about the bus.
“Our challenge is to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that’s what we’re really trying to do here today,” Pastor Kent Steiner of Chicago West Bible Church said. “(We want) to come together and encourage our neighbors to be able to find the protection that they need for our community, each other and our families.”
The city will continue to deploy CTA buses as mobile vaccination sites in numerous areas around the city. Anyone 16 years of age or older can hop on a bus and choose between the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires one. Appointments are not necessary, and residents like Maurice say that the ability to get the shot quickly and easily was a huge selling point.
“Stop, go ahead and get the shot,” Cardine said.