Chicago health officials said the city could receive the first doses of coronavirus vaccines within the month.
Chicago Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday that she expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines for emergency use authorization over the next few weeks.
"Based on the preliminary information that's been shared, we expect that they will be granted emergency use authorization because both companies have at least preliminarily showed excellent safety data and excellent efficacy data with a vaccine that looks to be more than 90 to even 95% protective," Arwady said. "But the first step is that the FDA has to grant that emergency use authorization."
Should the FDA grant emergency use authorization, Arwady said she expects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the recommendation to vaccinate the highest risk healthcare workers and long term care facilities first.
When the city eventually receives a COVID-19 vaccine, Arwady explained health officials plan to begin vaccinating all 37 Chicago hospitals for workers, but waiting on patients, as well as all 128 long term care facilities and assisted living facilities.
"That work has already been done," Arwady said. "We're in the final stages of completing the paperwork. But that's where we'll start. And then we've got a lot of plans to go from there as more vaccine is available and rolled out."
Arwady and a medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Candace Robinson both said the city could see a vaccine in the third or fourth week of December should the approval process go as anticipated.
Robinson explained that initial vaccine supplies will be limited, with likely not enough for all healthcare works immediately.
"Based on some numbers recently released by the federal government, our initial planning is based on us receiving, Chicago specifically receiving, somewhere between 20 and 25,000 doses of vaccine," Robinson said.
In clarifying the city's plan, Arwady said the 20,000 to 25,000 range is the first doses of the vaccine, with expectations to receive allotments every week once available.
Robinson added that health officials will adjust their initial vaccination plan depending on how many doses Chicago receives.
Arwady said she is uncertain of an exact timeline for Chicagoans to be vaccinated, but antipated the campaign will last over one year. If an individual has already contracted COVID-19, she said he or she should still receive the vaccine.
Health officials launched a new citywide website to keep residents updated on the status of the potential COVID-19 vaccine.