coronavirus chicago

Chicago Teachers Could Be Next in Line For COVID Vaccine, Lightfoot Suggests

Just over half of all teachers ordered to report to Chicago Public Schools did not show up on Monday to prepare for in-person instruction

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that she hopes teachers will be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine at some point in the next round of vaccinations.

"Absolutely, we want to make sure that teachers are in the queue for the next round," Lightfoot said Tuesday. "But I'll say it again, we have got to get more vaccine, we can't create an expectation of hope for people and not be able to deliver, that would be the worst kind of cruelty that could be created."

Lightfoot said the city is depending on the federal government to "step up" and ensure a sufficient amount of vaccines are sent nationwide. She added that before teachers can be considered, they must vaccinate all health care workers.

On Monday, just over half of all teachers ordered to report to Chicago Public Schools did not show up to prepare for in-person instruction as the district rolls out its reopening plan, CPS said.

Should teachers and staff continue to not report to schools as expected, the district may begin a progressive discipline policy that could lead to their firing, CPS' CEO indicated Tuesday.

A total of 60.2% of all school-based staff required to return reported to work Monday, CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said during a news conference Tuesday. That included 49.7% of all teachers and 70% of all paraprofessionals, she said.

In Cook County, residents can now register for coronavirus vaccine updates, including when they will be able to receive their first shots and where, as Illinois continues its rollout to administer doses.

According to the Cook County Department of Public Health's website, the new registration form will be used "to gather information from individuals who would like to receive regular updates about when and where they can receive the COVID-19 vaccination."

Though the department notes that vaccine doses remain limited and are currently being administered to prioritized populations, including health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff, it asks any resident who is "not affiliated with a healthcare organization of any type" to fill out the survey.

Last week, the city of Chicago also launched its first mass COVID-19 vaccination site for health care workers as it continues to roll out thousands of doses of vaccines against the deadly coronavirus.

But you can't simply walk into the vaccination site - known as a "point of dispensing" site or "pod" - to get your shot. You'll need an appointment, and only those who meet certain criteria can get appointments at this time.

Workers who meet the criteria - Arwady listed examples including a dental practice, an outpatient practice, a school nurse, a mortician's office or any other kind of health care worker in Chicago - will first need to make sure their practice is registered with the city.

The city's website has a survey for health care providers to detail the practice, staff and more information before city officials begin the process of either getting doses of the vaccine directly to the practice or by setting up appointments for employees at city sites or potentially locations run by pharmacy partners or hospitals.

As of New Year’s Eve, 143,924 Illinois residents have received the COVID vaccine, according to a spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Those numbers come amid growing fears that the vaccine’s slow rollout could prolong the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent study by NBC News, the federal government would need to vaccinate 3 million people per day in order to achieve its goal of 80% of the population being vaccinated by late June.

As of late December, only 2 million people had received the first dose, and at that pace, it would take 10 years to achieve the 80% vaccination threshold.  

As concerns grow, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticized the federal government, saying that it could take more than a year to administer the vaccine to all city residents at the current pace of dose shipments.

In a social media post Saturday, Lightfoot said that the city’s health department has administered more than 95% of the vaccine doses it has received so far from the federal government.

In the tweet, Lightfoot said that at the current rate of dose allocation, it would take 71 weeks to fully vaccinate all city residents.

“We need more vaccine. Now,” she said.

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