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Vaccinations on rise, but so are COVID-19 cases

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her wife, Amy Eshleman, got their booster shots Friday alongside a bunch of newly vaccine- eligible children.

A girl gets vaccinated Friday at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School, which, along with about 20 other schools in the city, is offering pediatric vaccines to newly eligible kids between the ages of 5 and 11.
A girl gets vaccinated Friday at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School, one of more than 20 city schools offering pediatric vaccines to newly eligible kids between the ages of 5 and 11.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The background noise at a busy pediatric vaccination site where Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference Friday could be gut-wrenching at times.

Sobs, whimpers and the occasional scream of “No!” from fearful kids punctuated the gathering at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School.

Children ages 5 to 11 — who just became eligible for the jab — were then offered a Band-Aid and a cupcake.

The noise, however stressful for everyone in the room, was a sort of music to the ears of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

It meant kids were getting vaccinated and contributing to a bump in vaccinations that has reached 10,000 a day — the highest number of daily vaccinations since June.

“The numbers are increasing beautifully,” Arwady said.

And there’s no time to spare.

“We are, as of today, averaging 414 new cases of COVID in Chicago ... an increase of 24% from just a week ago,” she said.

“I worry that as these holidays are coming we’re going to see more of a surge,” she said.

Lightfoot echoed the concern as she and her wife, Amy Eshleman, rolled up their sleeves to get a booster shot at the vaccination site in front of news cameras.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot gets a booster shot Friday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot gets a booster shot Friday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said the moment presented a “magic period” where kids and families were able to be vaccinated before the holidays.

CPS canceled classes Friday and city workers got two hours of paid time off to allow time for vaccinations.

Vaccinations were being offered at more than 20 schools, said Martinez, who emphasized that inoculation is the best way to tamp down on classroom quarantines that can result in frustrating bouts of remote learning.

He said there will not be another day off to allow kids to get their second dose.

Martinez said there will be outreach to the families of kids who haven’t been vaccinated. He noted the city will begin visiting homes Monday to offer at-home vaccinations.

Marcia Kay, 37, said her appointment Friday to inoculate her daughters Mina, 9, and Brea, 8, went pretty smoothly.

She thought an ice cream bribe would help mitigate anxiety and tears. It did not.

Sebastian Northrop, 6, stood next to his mom, Angela, and said he got the shot “so I could keep my sister safe.”

She’s 3, he said.