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Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccine supply finally catching up to demand, top doc says: ‘No excuses’ not to get a shot

City-run vaccination sites will start accepting limited numbers of walk-in appointments starting Friday, according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, pictured at a January news conference.
Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, pictured at a January news conference. The city’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is now able to cover any resident who wants one, Arwady said Thursday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The vaccine “Hunger Games” are over.

After four months of frustration for thousands of residents who scrambled to claim fleeting batches of COVID-19 vaccination appointments, Chicago finally has enough doses to provide a shot to anyone who wants one, the city’s top doctor said Thursday.

Thanks to a “softening” of vaccine demand in other parts of Illinois and growth in supply provided by the federal government, “you can get one today, no excuses,” according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

“We’ve been saying for months that these vaccines are safe, they are effective, and now we can say they truly are available for all,” Arwady said during an online Q&A. “Our supply has just not been up to our demand month after month after month, and I know how frustrating that has been for many people. But as of now, we have enough vaccine.”

For the first time ever, the city has been able to provide doses to all vaccine providers who have requested them over the past two weeks, according to Arwady. As a result, city-run vaccination sites will start accepting limited numbers of walk-in appointments starting Friday.

“The fact that we actually have enough vaccine cannot be overstated in terms of how good of news that is for Chicago,” she said. “I want you to tell everybody that so that we can really, really, really use this vaccine, get folks vaccinated and get Chicago past COVID.”

More than a third of Chicago adults are already fully immunized, and more than half have gotten at least one dose. For the remainder from here on out, the process “is going to feel more like getting a flu shot,” Arwady said.

“You don’t fight the crowds to get a flu shot. You can walk into your pharmacy, you can get an appointment through your doctor … It is more about there being enough vaccine and you having the confidence and making the decision to get it.”

With the latest 131,411 shots that went into arms Wednesday, about 8.5 million doses have been administered overall across Illinois, according to the state Department of Public Health. Nearly 3.6 million residents are fully vaccinated, or about 28% of the population.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

While the city and the rest of the state continue seeing improved infection numbers after a month-long spike, getting a shot is “the most important thing that you can possibly do to drive those numbers down,” Arwady said.

The state reported 3,170 more residents were diagnosed with the coronavirus among the latest 88,336 tests, keeping the average statewide positivity rate at 3.8% and marking 10 straight days that figure has either decreased or held steady.

Chicago’s regional positivity rate is down to 5.3%, with an average of 631 residents testing positive each day over the last week.

“We want to get that positivity down under 5%, but continued progress in the right direction is what is going to let us move toward even more reopening,” Arwady said.

The state’s number of hospitalized coronavirus patients also fell for a third straight day, down to 2,147.

But the virus claimed 33 more Illinois lives, including that of a Cook County man in his 30s.

The state’s death toll is up to 21,755 among more than 1.3 million residents who have been infected over the past year.

All Illinois residents 16 and up are eligible for a shot. For help finding an appointment in Chicago, visit zocdoc.com or call (312) 746-4835. The city also opened up additional United Center appointments for Chicago residents, using the code CHIZIPVAX21.

For help finding a shot elsewhere, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or call (833) 621-1284. Thousands of appointments are also available throughout the week at a federally run site in Gary, Indiana.