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Chicago begins offering COVID-19 booster shots

On Monday, October 25, Chicago began offering free COVID-19 booster shots to eligible residents following the recent endorsement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson booster doses will be available at all Chicago Department of Public Health pop-up clinics, which can be found online at chicago.gov/city/en/sites/ covid19- vaccine/home/calendar-of-events.html.

A pop-up clinic was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 29, at McDonald’s in Woodlawn at 6560 S. Stony Island Ave. Another pop-up clinic was scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 30, at Project H.O.O.D. Harvest Fest, 6615 S. Martin Luther King Drive. Both pop-up clinics will offer Pfizer and J&J vaccines and booster shots.

The city is primarily focusing on individuals aged 65 and older and 18- year-old residents with underlying medical conditions. Long-term care facility residents ages 18 and older are also eligible for the booster.

Booster shots are also being offered to people aged 18 to 64 who live in settings where they are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission. They include grocery store workers, teachers, first responders, U.S. postal workers, transit workers, food and agriculture workers, and law enforcement workers.

To be eligible for the J&J booster shot, residents 18 and older must wait two months after they received their primary J&J vaccine dose. To get the Moderna and Pfizer booster shot, residents must wait at least six months after they completed the two-shot vaccination.

Residents seeking a booster shot must be fully vaccinated and must present their vaccination card to prove it.

The CDC has also recommended mixing and matching booster vaccines, but city officials are encouraging residents to get the same product for their booster dose as they did for their primary series. City officials say they approve residents mixing and matching if the booster shot of the original vaccine is not available.

During the Perri Small Show on WVON Tuesday, October 26, Brother Hall said he received the booster shot on the first day the city began offering them.

“I have so much energy and I feel great,” Hall said.

CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the booster shots are free and available at hundreds of locations across the city, including at CDPH clinics and events.

“Now is a great time to get a COVID- 19 vaccine booster dose as long as it has been six months since your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months since you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” said Dr. Arwady.

Walgreens and CVS began offering COVID vaccine booster shots to eligible people across the country three days before Chicago began offering the booster shots. Walgreens said both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots will be available in stores nationwide, though availability will vary by location.

Booster shots have increasingly become sought after as more breakthrough vaccination cases emerge. This week, Chicago Bears Coach Matt Nagy tested positive for COVID-19. On October 18, former Secretary of State and four-star General Colin Powell died of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. He was waiting to get the booster shot but was too sick to get it.

According to a Crusader analysis of the latest city health data, there were five COVID-19 deaths last week in zip code 60620, which includes Auburn Gresham, Chatham and Beverly. A total of 190 people have died from zip code 60620 since the pandemic began in March, 2020.

Of 18 predominately Black zip codes, seven had COVID-19 test positivity rates lower than the city average of 1.6 percent as of October 25. Sixteen of those zip codes had positivity rates lower than 2 percent. South Shore (60649) and West Englewood (60636) had the lowest positivity rates at 1.2 percent.

As of October 18, Chicago officials reported that 79 percent of city employees have confirmed vaccination status, and 84 percent of those are fully vaccinated.

“By getting vaccinated, we can preserve the safety of city employees and the health of our communities while moving Chicago closer to a safe return to normalcy,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement.

“Chicago needs to be proud of our city employees, who are committed to keeping our residents safe and will continue to do a phenomenal job at submitting their vaccination card or vaccine status to our city portal. I am thankful to everyone who has demonstrated their civic duty thus far by keeping our workplaces and city safe and our union partners for working through many difficult conversations to make this milestone possible.”

Arwady said, “Getting the vaccine is the most important thing city workers can do to protect themselves against COVID-19 and to protect the people they serve. While we have made tremendous progress in Chicago in getting people vaccinated and keeping COVID case rates down, our work isn’t done.”

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