Chicago won’t open a 24-hour vaccination site yet, Arwady says

CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says the city’s main priority at the moment is increasing vaccine supply.

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A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Norwegian American Hospital in January.

City officials say they have no plans to open an around-the-clock COVID-19 vaccination site in Chicago.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago public health officials said they have no plans to open a vaccination site that would be open 24 hours a day — as some other cities have done.

At a press conference on the city’s vaccinations efforts, officials were asked about the possibility of opening an around-the-clock center to speed up vaccines and increase accessibility for essential workers. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the main focus right now is increasing vaccine supply.

“At this point, there's not plans for a 24-hour situation,” Arwady said “We’ll see what the demand looks like and we’ll see what the vaccine supply looks like.”

Chicago is set to expand vaccine eligibility next Monday to additional essential workers like those in food service and hospitality, as well as those over 16 years old with underlying health conditions.

Since the start of the vaccine rollout, the city has prioritized healthcare and the first group of essential workers, according to Arwady.

“We’re always interested in new ideas, but we’ve been very focused here,” Arwady said “So, we’ll keep prioritizing those workers and we’ll see if they are more creative things we need to do to reach them.”

In January, New York City opened at least one 24/7 mass vaccination site in each borough, including a site at Citi Field, which officials estimated would be able to reach 5,000 to 7,000 eligible residents each day.

New York state temporarily increased hours at three other mass vaccination sites, in early March as part of a pilot program to begin administering Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccines, as the state battles a new variant of the coronavirus.

Arizona also opened a 24/7 hour vaccinationstate at State Farm Stadium in Glendale in hopes of increasing appointment availability for the Phoenix metropolitan area.

As of Saturday, more than 1 million shots have been administered at sites across Chicago, according to health officials, along with 4.7 million vaccinations administered statewide.

Before transiting to the new phase Monday, Arwady and Mayor Lori Lightfoot say the focus this week will be reaching as many elderly residents as possible, noting the city continues to lag behind other jurisdictions in that category.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced the opening of an additional mass vaccination site in suburban Forest Park Monday, as the state logged an additional 1,220 confirmed new COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths.

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