Chicago’s affluent zip codes have higher vaccination rates than poorer ones

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Crusader analysis shows emerging gap in city’s neighborhoods

By Erick Johnson

One zip code on the Gold Coast has less than half as many COVID-19 cases than Chatham, but seven times more vaccinations than the predominately South Side neighborhood. Another zip code on the North Side has more vaccinations than six zip codes on the West Side combined.

Those details are the findings of an extensive Crusader analysis of data on vaccinations that occurred January 3 in zip codes of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. The data reveal that affluent neighborhoods on the North Side are getting more vaccinations at a dramatically higher rate than any of Chicago’s neigborhoods despite having less cases and COVID-19 deaths than some of them, including the South Side.

Nearly three weeks after the first person in Chicago received the first shot of Pfizer’s vaccine at Loretto Hospital on the West Side, hospitals throughout the city are busy inoculating first responders to protect them from the stubborn coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands and killed nearly 4,000 residents.

As ordinary residents wait to receive the first dose of the vaccine, a gap of the number of vaccinations is already widening between Chicago’s affluent and low-income neighborhoods, the Crusader has determined.

As of January 3, 30,905 residents received vaccinations at hospitals throughout Chicago.

On that date, there were 11 zip codes where there were over 1,000 vaccinations. Only one was on the South Side and none were located on the West Side. Six of the zip codes were on the North Side and one, 60611, includes Chicago’s Gold Coast.

With a total of 11,535 vaccinations, zip codes on the North Side together had nearly twice as many vaccinations than zip codes on the South Side, which had a total of 6,886 vaccinations.

Rounding out the list of vaccinations is the Near West Side (3,883), Near North Side (3,079), West Side (3,064), Near South Side (1,438) and Downtown (1,020).

A revealing fact about the list is that the North Side has just 13 zip codes while the South Side has 19. By comparison, in 2020, the North Side had a total of 48,430 COVID-19 cases and 1,129 deaths at the time while the South Side had 75,093 infections and 1,526 deaths from the disease. And the West Side, which trails the Near West Side and the Near North Side in vaccinations, has more neighborhoods and zip codes than both of those regions combined.

Out of 13 zip codes on the North Side, six zip codes had over 1,000 vaccinations as of January 3, city data show. They include the neighborhoods of Rogers Park, Lakeview, Irving Park, Uptown, Lincoln Park and Logan Square. The zip code with the highest number of vaccinations was West Town on the Near West Side with 1,804 inoculations.

Zip code 60615, which includes Kenwood and Hyde Park, was the only zip code on the South Side that had over 1,000 vaccinations. Fourteen zip codes on the South Side had less than 500 vaccinations as of January 3.

Zip Code 60636, which include West Englewood, received just 70 vaccinations. That zip code had 41 COVID-19 deaths and 2, 378 cases.

Unlike the North and Near North Sides, there were no zip codes on the West Side that had over 1,000 vaccinations as of January 3.

West Garfield Park, in zip code 60624, had the lowest number of vaccinations with just 104. West Garfield Park in 2020 had 2,477 COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths from the disease.

The West Side zip code with the highest number of vaccinations is 60608. The predominately white and Latino neighborhood had 838 vaccinations.

In zip code 60644, which is the Austin neighborhood, there were 579 vaccinations in an area that experienced 3,156 cases and 88 deaths in 2020. In the North and South Lawndale neighborhoods in zip code 60623, which had the highest deaths in Chicago, at 213, in 2020, there were only 288 vaccinations.

By comparison, zip code 60611 on the Gold Coast, which had 11 COVID-19 deaths and 1,577 cases in 2020, had 1,696 residents vaccinated as of January 3.

City data also show zip code 60657, which is the Lakeview neighborhood on the North Side, with 1,781 vaccinations, more than six zip codes on the West Side combined. However, that same zip code in Lakeview had 3,429 infections and 38 deaths in 2020. That was less than six zip codes on the West Side. By comparison, residents in Humboldt Park, which is zip code 60651, experienced 5,956 infections and 109 deaths. In that same Humboldt Park zip code, there were just 193 infections as of January 3.

The gap can be attributed to the fact that the vaccinations include only first responders in the first phase of the Pfizer rollout.

They work at some of the largest hospitals in Chicago, which are not located in zip codes that include Black neighborhoods or low-income communities.

For this story, the Crusader reached out to Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health, who did not respond by press time for the print edition.

The gap may widen as concerns persist about Blacks being reluctant to take the vaccine because of their longstanding distrust of the healthcare industry.

Vaccinations began in December at Loretto Hospital on the West Side, where the COVID-19 death rate is more than 60 percent higher than the citywide average.

Medical workers at Chicago’s 34 hospitals and nursing homes were the first to be inoculated. Ordinary Chicago residents are expected to receive vaccinations in the spring.

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