As winter approaches, the city of Chicago is stepping up efforts to get people prepared for the cold weather by encouraging residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but also the flu shot.
Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of Chicago's Department of Public Health, shared the message at Kennedy King College Saturday where she got her flu vaccine and COVID booster shot Saturday.
"I think a lot of people still don’t realize you can get shots at the same time," the doctor said. "It’s one of the most important things, and you don’t have to make two appointments."
Chicago health officials are doubling down on vaccination efforts in preparation of winter, because when colder weather hits people spend more time indoors, increasing the risk of respiratory illnesses.
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The city hopes to get at least 77% of Chicago residents age 12 and up vaccinated by the end up the year.
As it stands, 74% of residents have received the COVID vaccine.
"We are already seeing COVID cases rise in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, so I’m a little worried as it gets colder, and we come back inside more, could we see more problems with it? We could," Arwady said.
Arwady wasn't the only one to receive a booster shot Saturday.
Tionna Hayes, a Chicago Public Schools educator, was so eager to get the additional dose, she signed up for the first available time slot.
"Getting someone else sick, for me personally, getting someone else sick, I couldn’t have that on my conscience," Hayes said.
After getting the vaccine, the next best protection against COVID is wearing a mask, health officials say.
Arwady advises Chicagoans to keep them handy at least for the next few weeks.
"I don’t plan to have us wear these indefinitely, put it that way," the doctor said. "But when our COVID is just a bit better control, we’re a little over 300 cases right now, so we’re half way in that substantial mark, we will recommend taking them off."
In the coming days, numerous vaccine drives will be held at a variety of locations, including specifically-designated vaccination clinics, food pantries and various pop-up events throughout the city, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office.
Detailed information about locations, dates and times is available here.