More Than 1K COVID Vaccine Doses Given at South Austin Mass Vaccination Event

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More than 1,000 residents of Chicago's West Side received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine Sunday during a pop-up mass vaccination event in the South Austin neighborhood.

"This is an example of equity in action," said Dr. Stephanie Cox-Baston, chief medical officer of the Near North Health Service, one of the organizations behind the large vaccination effort. "We talk a lot about equity, but this is what it looks like."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and health officials have long said equity is a top priority in the city's distribution strategy.

In an address marking one year since the pandemic March 19, Lightfoot touted the city's creation of the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, which addresses "the horrific number of Black folks dying from COVID" and "the disproportionate impacts of the virus in the Latinx communities."

The Austin mass vaccination event follows a scandal at the nearby Loretto Hospital, in which coronavirus vaccine doses were purportedly given to individuals with connections to the hospital.

Regarding equity and overall vaccinations, progress has been reported within the past several weeks citywide. In mid-February, city officials said at least 50% of doses administered during one week went to Black or Latinx residents.

The numbers reported in mid-February nearly tripled the statistics reported less than a month earlier, when the city said just 18% of doses administered early in the vaccine rollout were going to Black or Latinx Chicagoans, despite them making up 59% of the city's population. 

While vaccination efforts increase citywide, health officials have warned of a concerning rise in metrics in the past several days. Chicago's daily case rate has gone up by nearly 50% in the last week, and six days of increases in test positivity have been reported.

On Monday, Chicago will enter Phase 1C of its vaccine rollout, which will expand eligibility for residents with underlying health conditions and an additional group of essential workers.

For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.

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