The Crusader Newspaper Group

Every resident in a zip code in The Loop vaccinated as Englewood struggles at 21 percent

Zip code 60603. It’s a two-mile strip of real estate that stretches from the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s where rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs $2,400 a month. It comes with spectacular views of Chicago’s skyscrapers, including the Willis Tower. It’s also the healthiest zip code in the city right now. According to the latest data from the Chicago Department of Public Health, everyone living in that zip code has been given at least one vaccine shot against COVID-19.

Nearly 10 miles south, in zip code 60621, which mainly includes Englewood, just over 21 percent of the neighborhood has been vaccinated, compared to 101 percent in zip code 60603.

Five months after Chicago began vaccinating its residents, it’s a gap that continues to widen. Today, Englewood has the lowest vaccination rates in the city. It’s among seven zip codes in predominately Black neighborhoods where less than 26 percent of residents have received at least one vaccine shot to protect them from the coronavirus. Meanwhile 15 zip codes on the North Side and Near West Side have vaccination rates of 50 percent or more. Of this group, three zip codes in The Loop have vaccination rates of at least 60 percent. And according to health data as of Monday, April 19, there are three top zip codes with the highest vaccination rates out of Chicago’s 56 zip codes. They include the Gold Coast (60611), and three zip codes in The Loop, which are 60604 (73.6 percent), and 60606 (65.2 percent) and the 60603 which the highest with 101 percent.

On the South Side, vaccination rates continue to lag in zip codes that the city designated as high-risk communities that are predominately Black. The suspension of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine has set back efforts to boost inoculation rates in Black communities. As of April 19, only 25.3 percent of residents in West Englewood’s zip code 60636 have been vaccinated. In South Shore’s zip code of 60649, only 25.5 percent of residents have been vaccinated. In zip code 60624, only 24.5 percent of residents in West and East Garfield Park have been vaccinated. The Roseland and West Pullman neighborhoods are also struggling. In that zip code 60638, only 25.8 percent of the residents have been vaccinated, In Auburn Gresham’s 60620 zip code, only 26.3 percent of its residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

On the West Side in Austin’s zip code 60644, only 25.4 percent of the residents have been vaccinated. Last week, Loretto Hospital resumed vaccinating residents after the city had lifted its ban on doses following a scandal at the West Side hospital.

Many of these struggling zip codes for weeks have been the focus of the Protect Chicago Plus initiative, which granted special eligibility to residents to be inoculated at hospitals, clinics and mass vaccination centers at the United Center and Chicago State University. But transportation challenges and a limited, three-day operating schedule at Chicago State’s mass vaccination site have been barriers for many residents.

This week, Chicago joined Illinois and the country in expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults 16 years and older. And the FDA was expected to allow cities and hospitals to resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six cases of blood clots forced officials to further examine the dose for health and safety risks.

The pause fueled concerns of creating deeper distrust in vaccinations among Blacks and minority residents throughout the country. But efforts are underway to promote the vaccine as a safe and effective way to protect oneself against the coronavirus.

Recently, Golden Gate Funeral Home partnered with Instavaxx, a medical provider that specializes in COVID-19 vaccinations, to bring vaccine doses to Auburn Gresham. Golden Gate is currently serving as a temporary Pfizer vaccination site to provide hundreds of doses to the neighborhood residents, especially seniors.

“It is important to us as good community citizens to do all we can to support and ensure the sustainability of our communities, especially with our seniors,” said Sylvester Dunn, General Manager, Golden Gate Funeral Home. “And helping to make the vaccine accessible to our Black and brown communities must be a priority, and we’re willing to do what we can in order to help get shots in arms and come through this pandemic.”

No registration is required. Walkups are welcomed and encouraged.  Golden Gate is located at 2036 W. 79th St., and the phone number is 773.846.7900. All are welcome.

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