Lightfoot urges vaccination as COVID-19 cases rise in Black community faster than rest of city

“We should not have people continue to die in Chicago from this virus when we have a lifesaving vaccine that is free and readily available,” she said.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference at City Hall on July 15, 2020. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is in the background.

Black Chicagoans between 18 and 44 account for the largest increase in COVID-19 cases of any demographic group in the city, officials said Tuesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot doubled down Tuesday on efforts to increase vaccinations among Black Chicagoans as cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise in the community.

“South Side, we are calling for you to come to Chicago State University and get this lifesaving vaccine,” Lightfoot said Tuesday during a news conference at the mass vaccination site at the university at 95th Street and Martin Luther King Drive.

Chicagoans seeking a vaccine appointment should call (312) 746-4835.

About 40% of all Chicagoans, not just adults, have gotten at least a first dose of vaccine, but among the city’s Black residents, that number shrinks to 25%.

“We should not have people continue to die in Chicago from this virus when we have a lifesaving vaccine that is free and readily available,” she said.

The largest recent increase in COVID-19 cases of any demographic in the city is among Black residents between 18 and 44. And the test positivity rate among Black Chicagoans stands at 7.9% — significantly higher than the city’s average of 5.6%.

Part of the problem is that some people are just now absorbing information about the vaccine, Lightfoot said.

“Yes, we’ve been doing vaccinations since December, but some folks are just now tuning in and want to be educated about ‘Is it safe? What are the different vaccines? How do I get it?’” she said.

Lightfoot said the city and its partners must continue to bang the drum on the importance and safety of COVID-19 vaccine, which on Monday became available for the first time to everyone over the age of 16 in Chicago.

“We’ve just got to keep doing the outreach and the education because not everybody is following this every single day like many of us are; every day Chicagoans are worried about a range of things,” Lightfoot said.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s Public Health Department, said there have been no safety concerns tied to doses administered in Chicago.

“And for the first time this last week we had enough vaccine to send to every provider who wanted it,” Arwady said.

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