coronavirus illinois

Chicago's Top Doc Predicts ‘Safe and Effective' Coronavirus Vaccine By Early 2021

Dr. Allison Arwady weighs in on how long the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine could take in Chicago and what that would mean for mask wearing.

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Chicago's Public Health Commissioner said Tuesday she expects the United States will have a "safe and effective" coronavirus vaccine by the beginning of 2021, but the availability of a vaccine is just the beginning.

"Let's say [a vaccine] starts to roll out in early 2021," Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Chicago coronavirus update on Tuesday. "That is going to take the better part of a year at minimum to get a new vaccine. Literally available to everybody."

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady talks about the city’s plan to roll out vaccines when one becomes available.

Arwady said that when the vaccine is approved, it won't be available to everyone right away.

"We'll probably start with the highest risk folks, healthcare workers, etc.," she said, "and then over time be able to roll it out."

In April, the city rolled out "Chi COVID Coach," an app to help Chicago residents during the pandemic. The app also give Chicagoans the opportunity to pre-register for vaccine dissemination once it becomes available.

"I think 2021 is going to be a mix of helping people get the vaccine, which is going to be the most important step in terms of really creating that herd immunity that everybody is so interested in, as well as really having some more long-term protection," Arwady said.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady talks about the likelihood that we would ever be able to reach herd immunity.

Arwady's thoughts are in line with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who told NBC's "TODAY" on Wednesday that he predicts a coronavirus vaccine will be developed by the end of this year.

But don't hang up your face coverings just yet.

Arwady said masks likely will continue to be a requirement at least during the complete vaccine rollout as health officials keep learning more about the virus.

"We continue to study this virus every day," she said. "So we may learn new things about how it spreads or what we need to do to protect each other. But based on what we know right now, I feel pretty confident that for the next year COVID-19 is going to be with us and that people are broadly going to need to think about ways to protect people they love and the community at large."

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