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Chicago expands next round of vaccinations to residents 65 or older

The state lowered the age this week in an effort to vaccinate Black and Brown communities that have suffered higher death rates among people 65 to 74.

Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s acting health commissioner, at City Hall on Tuesday.
Dr. Allison Arwady
Sun-Times file

The city of Chicago will follow the state’s lead and offer the next round of vaccine shots to people 65 and older.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday the state will diverge from federal guidelines, which limit vaccinations to people 75 or older, in an effort to vaccinate communities of color, which have suffered higher death rates among people 65 and older.

“Even as the whole phase will be open to those over 65, we will be asking our health care partners to prioritize first and foremost those at highest risk of poor COVID outcomes and an easy way of doing that is encouraging them to look to those over 75,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Alison Arwady said Friday.

Arwady’s remarks clarified which guidelines will be followed by Chicago, which receives and distributes coronavirus vaccines separately from the rest of the state.

When the next round of vaccinations will be made available to older Chicagoans is not clear.

To get there, vaccinations must first be given to all health care workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

On Friday, Arwady pointed to progress being made on that front by speaking outside a long-term care facility in Norwood Park where residents and staff began receiving shots.

“Whoomp! There it is!” resident Linda Fitzpatrick, 77, said after getting the vaccine during a livestream.

Chicago is receiving about 32,000 vaccine doses per week, Arwady said.

Essential workers will be prioritized along with older Chicagoans in the next phase of vaccinations.

The vaccinations will be made available by appointment, mostly through health care providers such as pharmacies and primary care doctors, she said.

Arwady sought to reassure older folks with anxiety about getting in line for a shot.

“You haven’t missed anything if you’re afraid you haven’t signed up yet for a vaccine,” she said. “We’ll let you know.”