COVID vaccine

Watch Live: Lightfoot, Chicago's Top Doctor to Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Note: Lightfoot and Arwady's news conference can be watched live in the video player above.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top health official are expected to hold a news conference Monday afternoon to deliver an update on the city's COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady are set to hold the news conference at 1 p.m. at St. Bernard Hospital, according to Lightfoot's public schedule. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

The city entered Phase 1B, the next phase of its vaccination plan on Monday, along with the rest of Illinois, opening up doses for frontline workers and those over the age of 65.

However, health officials have maintained that supply of the two available vaccines remains limited, so not everyone who is eligible in this next phase will be able to receive theirs right away.

Arwady said last week that there are four ways in which residents will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19: through their medical system or health care provider, through pharmacies, through a dedicated vaccination location like the points of dispensing sites, or through their employer.

During a news conference on Thursday, Arwady said the first way, through residents' individual medical systems, is how most people will be vaccinated. That includes primary care doctors, federally qualified health centers, hospitals and other systems of care, she said, noting that many of those systems were already reaching out to "some of their most vulnerable patients" to make appointments.

Arwady said with regard to the second way, through pharmacies, that the city had enrolled more than 100 pharmacies across Chicago and would share more information on Monday about how to sign up for an appointment in that manner.

The third way will be through mass vaccination sites like Chicago's "Points of Dispensing" or POD locations, Arwady said. The city had launched six of the PODs at City Colleges locations, which she noted are still for health care workers, not the general public, and by appointment only.

Arwady said the fourth way Chicagoans can get vaccinated, through their employers, has been the way that she's received most questions about.

Phase 1B includes anyone over the age of 65, as well as frontline essential workers that have been prioritized, like first responders, people who work in correctional facilities, grocery store workers, day care workers, people who work in manufacturing settings, educators and those in school settings, public transit employees, postal workers and more.

"All of those people become eligible on the 25th. So if a teacher or a postal worker or a grocery store worker has an appointment with their doctor, they can get vaccinated, but we will also be directing vaccine through employers to these groups," she said, highlighting as an example that the city had set up a POD for members of the Chicago Fire Department and that officials were working on setting up vaccinations at grocery stories for employees, among other locations.

"And yes, in February, we will be working with our private, parochial and public schools to bring vaccinations through the employment setting to those schools," Arwady added.

But Arwady stressed Thursday that the city has not received as many doses of the two available vaccines from the federal government that health officials had hoped they would since shipments began arriving last month.

"Let me highlight that we do not have anywhere near enough vaccine to vaccinate anywhere near the number of people who are going to want to get vaccinated beginning on Monday," Arwady said. "I'm thrilled that there is so much demand here. We are not wasting any vaccine, we have not wasted any vaccine in Chicago in one day, we will not waste any vaccine going forward."

Arwady said the city this week would receive just over 34,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which is roughly the same amount the city has received each week since shipments began.

But she noted that Chicago has more than 360,000 residents over the age of 65 and more than 300,000 people who are employed in some of the sectors eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1B.

"So the amount of vaccine that we are getting each week right now will allow us to vaccinate 5%, one in 20 of the people who are eligible," she said. "So, particularly if you're in your 60s or you don't have a lot of underlying conditions. I want you to understand it is likely to be a number of weeks before you are able to receive vaccine."

Arwady said Chicago health officials were "excited" to see the administration of President Joe Biden, inaugurated last Wednesday, in place as he has "pledged more transparency around vaccine availability" but she noted that the city was not likely to see significant increases in vaccine shipments for "probably at least three weeks."

"We get a lot of questions about, 'Why can't we move faster?' We can move faster as more vaccine gets here," Arwady said, adding, "My main word for you is patience.

Earlier last week, Arwady released tentative dates for when each of the next phases might begin, with a goal of opening vaccinations up to all Chicagoans over the age of 16 by the end of May.

Arwady announced in a livestream on Tuesday that the city will tentatively look to enter Phase 1C, on March 29, followed by Phase 2 on May 31.

"I want to be very clear that any dates we provide are purely speculative based on how much vaccine we get," Arwady said.

Phase 1C includes all essential workers not covered in earlier phases, as well as Chicagoans between the ages of 16 and 64 who have underlying medical conditions, Arwady said.

"Looking ahead to Phase 2, which is really when a vaccine is available to all Chicagoans, we're tentatively saying that might begin May 31, the end of May. All of these numbers for Phase 1C and Phase 2 is subject to change but just to give people a high level sense of what we're thinking," Arwady said.

Arwady again noted Thursday that those who qualify for vaccinations in Phase 1B do not have to register anywhere yet but the option may be available soon.

Chicago officials say the best way to get updates on the vaccination rollout is through "Chi COVID Coach," a platform the Chicago Department of Public Health is using to monitor symptoms, giving information on testing in the city and help you get the latest details on the city's vaccination plan - including notification when you can register to get your vaccine.

You can sign up for Chi COVID Coach here.

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