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7 downtown buildings to get vaccine clinics as more workers head back to offices

Among the participating Chicago office buildings are the Merchandise Mart and the Wrigley Building. Also announced were two locations in Rockford and one in Schaumburg.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday, May 10, 2021, announcing vaccination clinics will open at 10 major office buildings, seven of them in downtown Chicago. The others will be in Rockford, with two locations, and Schaumburg. Clinics will be open during shift changes to capture the greatest number of employees.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined forces with Walgreens to announce that vaccination clinics will open at 10 major office buildings, seven of them in downtown Chicago. The others will be in Rockford, with two locations, and Schaumburg. Clinics will be open during shift changes to capture the greatest number of employees.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Before the stay-at-home shutdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, more than 600,000 employees worked at Chicago’s impressive array of downtown office buildings.

They’re starting to trickle back to work, but the key to opening up the floodgates is getting even more employees vaccinated by bringing the vaccine to those workplaces.

On Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined forces with Deerfield-based Walgreens on an innovative plan to do just that.

Vaccination clinics will be located in 10 major office buildings, seven of them in downtown Chicago. They’ll be held during shift changes to capture the greatest number of employees.

Participating Chicago office buildings are: the Merchandise Mart; the Harris Bank Building, 115 S. LaSalle St.; 540 W. Madison St.; the Wrigley Building, 400-410 N. Michigan Ave.; the Equitable Building, 401 N. Michigan Ave.; 150 N. Riverside Plaza; and 311 S. Wacker Dr.

The Merchandise Mart and Wrigley Building clinics will be open May 17 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to tenants, staff and even walk-ins.

Pritzker said some of the sites will be open this week, but details on exact dates and times were not available.

One is at 1061 American Lane in Schaumburg and two are located at 308 W. State Street and 1111 S. Alpine Road in Rockford.

During a news conference in the lobby of the Harris Bank Building, Pritzker acknowledged Illinois has reached a vaccination plateau, as most people who are “immediately eager to get vaccinated have already been vaccinated.”

That’s why it’s time broaden the umbrella and bring vaccine directly to the state’s largest workplaces.

Chicago skyline.
Vaccination clinics will be opened in seven downtown Chicago office buildings, as well as three other locations, and if more building owners and managers across Illinois want to host similar events, the state will do it, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
Sun-Times file

“Starting this week, if you work downtown in Chicago and in other cities across Illinois, work is quite literally where the vaccines will be. Our vaccination teams will be showing up to major commercial buildings here in Chicago and other Illinois business districts to offer accessible, free vaccination opportunities to people in the comfort of their own workplaces,” Pritzker said.

“Remote work is coming to an end. Having vaccine available where you work makes getting vaccinated very convenient. … I’m announcing this initiative ... so those returning to these office buildings will be able to keep each other safe and keep their workplaces COVID-free. If you haven’t had a chance to get a vaccination yet or you weren’t sure if it was worth the trek, you can now get one right at your place of work.”

The initial wave of buildings is only the beginning, Pritzker said. If more building owners and managers across Illinois want to host similar events, the state will do it, he said.

“With a critical mass of people who need to be vaccinated, we will get you the staff, the supplies and the vaccine to make it happen. This is about making it as easy as possible for those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so,” the governor said.

Lightfoot said “more and more employers are already beginning to plan out or have already begun to welcome employees back into the office.” In fact, she’s in the final stages of arranging “staggered shifts” for city employees to reopen City Hall.

The city and state want to make that transition “as smooth as possible,” the mayor said.

“In-building vaccination sites provide an effective solution to this challenge because they will allow us to literally meet tenants and staff and employees where they are or where they will be in the future and provide them with a convenient place to get vaccinated,” Lightfoot said.

LaSalle Street in the Loop, with City Hall on the left and the Board of Trade building in the background.
Downtown Chicago office buildings will be home to seven coronavirus vaccination clinics, with at least some of them opening this week.
Sun-Times file

The mayor urged property owners, community organizations, not-for-profits, churches and owners of other buildings “where people congregate” to take advantage of the city’s offer to hold even more free vaccination clinics “as you welcome people back under your roof.”

“We need all of you to take part in our mission to fully vaccinate our residents, reopen our city and our state and finally put this pandemic in the rear-view mirror. … I’m excited about the prospects of what the summer will bring. … But, a lot of that and the pace of it depends upon how many more people we can get vaccinated. So taking advantage of these opportunities is critically important,” she said.

Farzin Parang, the former top mayoral aide now serving as executive director of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, noted that, prior to the pandemic, Chicago’s commercial office buildings “brought 600,000 people from all over our city and the region to work in our downtown.”

“The density of these office-goers made possible the restaurants, theaters and other businesses that power much of our hospitality arts and tourism industries. That infrastructure, in turn, makes our city more appealing to live in and promotes the retention and recruitment of the workforce that our businesses need to grow,” Parang said.

“It is imperative for our state and our city to recover and nurture that density. It is, both literally and figuratively, the core of what makes us a city and it is certainly what sustains our collective economy.”