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City launching new vaccination site for airport, transit workers and ride-hailing drivers

Starting Friday, about 500 shots will be administered daily to O’Hare, Midway, CTA, Metra and PACE workers, plus taxi and ride-hailing drivers.

O’Hare Airport pictured in July. Transit workers will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare on Friday.
Transit workers will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare on Friday.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Public transit and airport employees will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at a new site launching Friday at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel.

About 500 shots will be doled out per day to people who work at Midway and O’Hare, as well as the CTA, Metra and PACE, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Taxi drivers and those who work for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are eligible, too.

“These vaccines provide a source of optimism for a return to normal operations as we continue working to keep Chicago connected to the world throughout this pandemic,” Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said in a statement. “Chicago’s transportation employees are crucial to our region’s infrastructure, and I’m proud to host a site that will help protect them from COVID-19 as efficiently and equitably as possible.”

First in line among those groups are first responders and security personnel, followed by workers who have direct contact with passengers, including flight crews, bus drivers and taxi drivers. Then come pilots, mechanics and all other airport employees.

Recipients will get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which arrived in Illinois this week. Its overall efficacy rate is lower than the previously released Pfizer and Moderna shots, but experts agree it’s just as effective at preventing serious cases of COVID-19.

Shots at the new O’Hare site will come from Chicago’s weekly allocations of vaccine doses it receives from the federal government, but the site will be staffed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies.

The city will also provide shots to United and American airlines to be distributed to their employees separately.

The vaccination site at 10000 W. O’Hare Ave. won’t be open to the general public. It’ll operate by appointment only from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. As is the case at all other COVID-19 vaccination sites, shots are provided at no cost and insurance isn’t required.

Mobile vaccination teams eventually will hold events at Midway, officials said.