After early data painted a "disturbing" picture surrounding racial equity and the coronavirus vaccine in Chicago, the city says at least 50% of doses administered in the last week went to Black or Latinx residents.
The number nearly triples the statistics reported less than a month ago, when the city said just 18% of doses administered early on in the vaccine rollout were going to Black or Latinx Chicagoans, despite them making up 59% of the city's population.
Still, according to data since vaccinations began, Black and Latinx residents make up less than 40% of the city's total first doses administered.
"Just over two months ago, we finally began to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel we've been in since COVID-19 first came to our city. This light came in the form of long awaited vaccines," Lightfoot said during a news conference Friday. "And while it gave us a glimpse of what a post-COVID Chicago could look like, it also illuminated the significant challenges that we have struggled with throughout this pandemic."
Similar trends were reported across the country.
An early look at 17 states and two cities that released racial breakdowns through Jan. 25 found that Black people in all places were getting inoculated at levels below their share of the general population, in some cases significantly below.
That is true even though they constitute an oversize percentage of the nation's health care workers, who were put at the front of the line for shots when the campaign began in mid-December.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported white women over age 50 accounted for a majority of the first COVID-19 vaccinations administered in the United States.
Among the nearly 13 million people who received at least the first dose of vaccine between mid-December and mid-January, 63 percent were women and 55 percent were over age 50, the CDC report found.
The gap is deeply troubling to some, given that Black, Hispanic and Native American people are dying from COVID-19 at almost three times the rate of white people, according to the CDC.
Lightfoot said in response to Chicago's early data, the city spent the last month focusing on ensuring its vaccinations rates "match the demographics of our city."
“The significant progress we have made is undoubtedly thanks to our equity-based vaccine strategy—which includes a number of initiatives, individuals, organizations and community engagement tactics," she said. "Though we still have a long way to go before we can fully achieve equity, this progress serves as an important reminder that the surest path to truly recovering and healing from this terrible pandemic is one that is built with equity at its foundation."
In December, Chicago reported that 9.8% of first doses went to Latinx residents, 8.1% went to Black, non-Latinx residents, 59.4% to white residents and 15.1% went to Asian, non-Latinx residents.
For doses administered in the most recent week the numbers climbed to 26.2% to Latinx residents, 23.6% to Black residents, 41.4% to White residents, and 5.6% to Asian residents.
As of Friday, the numbers since vaccinations began sat at 18% of first doses administered to Latinx residents, 19.1% to Black, non-Latinx residents, 40.8% to white residents, 6.7% to Asian residents and 3.6% to those who identify as "other, non-Latinx." Another 11.8% of doses were administered where race was not known.
Over the past couple weekends, Chicago hosted vaccination clinics in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood and began registering residents for the vaccine.
This week, the city also announced it has opened temporary vaccination clinics in Gage Park and in North Lawndale.
Officials have since announced plans to collaborate with community organizations, faith leaders, health care providers and employers "in order to deliver successful vaccine clinics and events" in the following communities: Archer Heights, Austin, Back of the Yards, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, Montclare, Roseland, South Deering, Washington Heights, and West Englewood.
“From the beginning of the pandemic we’ve focused our attention and resources to those communities where we were seeing the highest case rates and the greatest number of deaths, and unfortunately they mirrored the inequities we see in society overall,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “We’ve made good progress in these same areas with lowering case rates and now with ensuring vaccine is getting where it’s needed most, and that work will continue.”