Front line workers at Chicago's Esperanza Health Centers were given their initial doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine Monday, becoming the first individuals in the city to receive the widely-anticipated vaccine.
Esperanza, which primarily serves Chicago's Southwest Side, was one of six federally-qualified health centers that began administering the Moderna vaccine Monday.
Calling Esperanza a lifeline for the Latinx community, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot explained that equity remains the city's COVID-19 strategy, as the virus disproportionately impacts people of color.
"I know the challenges that many members of the Latinx community face and at times may be insurmountable," the mayor said at a news conference at the health care center's facility in the Brighton Park neighborhood.
The rollout of the Modern vaccine is particularly exciting, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of Chicago's Department of Public Health, because unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it doesn't require ultra-cold storage.
Approximately 16,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be administered in the city by the end of the week, Arwady said. Similarly, the city anticipates more than 21,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine will be administered over the same time period.
Since then, Arwady said, the majority of those who have received the vaccine are hospital employees, however a small amount emergency medical services personnel have also been vaccinated.
No significant problems or unexpected side effects have been reported, according to the city's top doctor.
In all, more than 20,000 doses have been given throughout the city. That number, Arwady pointed out, doesn't include health care workers who work in Chicago, but reside outside of city limits.
On Monday, vaccinations for employees and residents started at eight of the city's long-term care facilities.
Phase 1A of the city's vaccination plan, which is focused on health care workers and long-term care facility residents, could potentially last through February.
While vaccinations are well underway, city officials caution residents that widespread community distribution is months away, and the pandemic itself is far from over.
"We have come a long way on this journey together, we cannot let up now," Lightfoot warned. "We owe it to all the people that are getting vaccinated to stay diligent."