Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced the city will meet a pledge to get 77% of Chicagoans vaccinated by the end of this week, calling it “an important milestone in our fight against COVID.”
The mayor’s office collaborated with neighborhood organizations in outreach efforts that tried to dispel any fears and other barriers around the vaccine to boost the ranks of the inoculated.
Lightfoot had made the 77% pledge in September, seeking to get 77% of Chicago residents 12 and older at least partly vaccinated by year’s end. The city dubbed it Protect Chicago 77 — a name stemming from the city’s 77 community areas.
“We wanted to make sure that we reached that number no later than Dec. 31,” Lightfoot said Monday during a news conference at the Northwest Side Housing Center, 5233 W. Diversey Ave. “By the end of this Thanksgiving week we will reach this goal and we are reaching it 30 days early.”
The mayor anticipates they will reach that goal a full month earlier than hoped.
Lightfoot drew a comparison to how things have changed since last Thanksgiving — COVID-19 cases were climbing, there was no vaccine and people were being urged to not celebrate the holiday with people outside their immediate bubble.
“Now, less than a year later, we do have vaccines and even booster shots to keep residents as young as now 5 years old safe and protected from this deadly virus,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot pointed to two city initiatives that have helped the city meet its pledge: Protect Chicago Plus focuses on 15 community areas particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, while Protect Chicago At Home provides in-home vaccinations to households.
Still, a large swath of the population remains unvaccinated, especially Black and Brown residents. Only 51.6% of Black residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Nov. 18, according to data from the Chicago Department of Public Health. Among Latino residents, the number is 61.6%.
“We are still seeing unfortunately the same cycle where whites and Asians are getting vaccinated at higher rates than Blacks and Latinx,” Lightfoot said. “We have to reverse that trend because we know, based on now 20 months of experience, that it is those communities that are the hardest hit.”
Among those hardest-hit neighborhoods had been Belmont Cragin, which for most of the pandemic had seen high rates of infection coupled with low rates of vaccination. Now, the Latino-majority neighborhood has a vaccination rate of 84.6% — highest rate of any community of color in Chicago.
Also on Monday, the city’s Department of Human Resources also released the latest statistics on how many city employees have disclosed their vaccination status. As of Monday, 92.1% of city employees have confirmed their status, and among those employees, 82% say they are fully vaccinated.
The Chicago Police Department lags that overall average, with 84% reporting their vaccination status and 76.8% of those saying they are fully vaccinated. All four police unions have objected to the vaccine mandate.