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Mayor hopes gift cards will persuade the unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 shot

The city is also launching a new website to encourage donations to fund the effort.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a new program Friday to encourage unvaccinated Chicago residents to get the shot.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a new program Friday to encourage Chicago residents to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In the latest push to get shots into the arms of the unvaccinated, the city is offering $100 Visa gift cards to residents and is launching a website to encourage donations to fund the program.

“We must increase our vaccination rate. We must do it in every corner of our city, and we must do it in order to finally move beyond the pandemic,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday at Erie Division Street Health Center, 2418 W. Division.

As of Oct. 9, about 74% of Chicago residents over the age of 12 had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Lightfoot said. She also said 97% of people occupying the city’s intensive care beds who “are clinging to life” are the unvaccinated.

“The vast majority of people who remain unvaccinated want to get vaccinated, but they’re concerned, they are nervous,” she said.

To make a donation to the fundraising campaign, go to PayitForwardChicago.com.

The gift cards are available at all Erie Family Health centers and Esperanza Health centers, officials said. Cards are expected to be available at Howard Brown Health, Access Community Health Network and Lawndale Christian Health Center by the end of next week, officials said.

“Talk to your friends, talk to your family members about why it’s important to step up in this moment,” Lightfoot said. “We don’t want to lose another Chicagoan, not one other, to COVID-19 because those deaths are entirely preventable.”