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Highest-risk Chicagoans could begin receiving coronavirus vaccine as early as mid-December: Lightfoot

City officials on Wednesday continued to urge residents to stay home on Thanksgiving Day.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference at City Hall in July 2020.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday urged residents not to travel for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Chicago health care workers could begin getting vaccinated against the coronavirus as early as mid-December, city officials said Wednesday.

And while the timelines remains fluid, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she expects “all adults to be able to get vaccinated sometime in 2021.”

Lightfoot said when the vaccine becomes more widely distributed, it is likely to be available at “large, centralized sites,” including city colleges and “mobile sites deployed at trusted community settings.”

Chicago’s top public health official, Dr. Allison Arwady, said the city has “very specific” plans for storage and distribution of a vaccine should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve one.

The Chicago Department of Public Health has already built up its “ultra-cold” storage in preparation for the arrival of a vaccine.

“We are working with multiple hospitals that also have built up some of that ultra-cold storage capacity,” Arwady said.

“Highest-risk” health care workers are expected to receive the vaccine, followed by distribution to nursing home and long-term care facilities, and then health care workers who see coronavirus patients outside of hospitals, Arwady said.

City officials, as they have done in recent days, urged Chicagoans to stay home for Thanksgiving and to celebrate within their own households.

“Let me put this as bluntly as I can: We are extremely concerned about Thanksgiving weekend becoming a superspreader event,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said the city is on track to record another 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths by Jan. 1.

“That should be a sobering reminder and figure for all of us,” she said.