Crusader analysis show privileged neighborhoods benefitting heavily from vaccinations
By Erick Johnson
Residents in downtown and the Loop have been vaccinated more than those infected with COVID-19, while the North Side has the highest inoculation rate in the city, according to a Crusader analysis of data from the city’s health department and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The Crusader examined COVID-19 data from Chicago’s 51 zip codes and found that vaccinations are soaring in affluent neighborhoods, while communities on the South and West sides have some of the highest coronavirus cases and dramatically lower vaccination rates.
The data focused on vaccination rates from the first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to health care workers and first responders at hospitals and clinics. Vaccinations have been offered since last December when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drugs. The data examined was pulled from the city and state’s health departments on January 26.
The Crusader found that while zip codes with clusters of hospitals have high vaccination rates, public data shows that thousands of residents in zip codes that include trendy, affluent neighborhoods are being inoculated at high levels.
The greatest discrepancy between vaccinations and COVID-19 cases is downtown Chicago and the Loop. The Crusader found that that region, which includes just seven zip codes, had a total of 5,344 vaccinations and 3,529 COVID-19 cases. Five of the seven zip codes in the Loop and downtown had more vaccinations than cases.
In zip code 60605, which includes the South Loop, had 2,838 vaccinations and just 1,552 cases. Another zip code in the Loop—60603—had 195 vaccinations and just 58 cases. The two zip codes that did not have more vaccinations than cases—60606 and 60604—were very close in becoming similar to the other zip codes.
Public data shows that in zip code 60606, the total number of vaccinations and COVID-19 cases were even at 256, and in zip code 60604, there were 86 vaccinations and 93 COVID-19 cases.
On the North Side, there were a total of 51,748 vaccinations and 57,248 COVID-19 cases. Five out of 17 zip codes on the North Side had more vaccinations than COVID-19 cases. Zip code 60657, which includes the trendy and affluent Lakeview neighborhood, had the highest number of vaccinations in the entire city with 5,142.
State data shows that the zip code had just 4,092—the 19th highest in Chicago. Zip code 60614, which includes the affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood, had the second highest vaccinations in the city, with 4,704 and just 4,386 COVID-19 cases. In zip code 60611, which includes the Gold Coast, there were a total of 4,505 vaccinations and just 1,783 COVID-19 cases.
On the trendy Near West Side, there were more vaccinations than COVID-19 cases in two out of three zip codes. In zip code 60622, there were 4,265 vaccinations and 4,149 COVID-19 cases. In zip code 60607, there were 2,900 vaccinations and 2,177 COVID-19 cases.
First responders, doctors and nurses contribute to the high number of vaccinations in Chicago’s trendy and affluent zip codes where they live and work. According to the city, there are 400,000 health care workers in Chicago. City leaders say about 40 percent of the doses are going to people who work, but do not live in Chicago.
Concerns remain whether affluent and wealthy residents in these zip codes are being given special and privileged access to vaccinations.
Out of a total of 26 zip codes on the South and West sides, only one zip code had more vaccinations than COVID-19 cases.
That zip code is 60615, which includes the affluent Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods.
In that zip code, there were a total of 3,306 vaccinations and just 1,836 COVID-19 cases—the 41st lowest in the city out of 51 zip codes.
In the rest of the 18 zip codes on the South Side, the number of vaccinations were far lower than the number of COVID-19 cases.
In zip code 60629, which includes predominantly Black and Hispanic Chicago Lawn, there were a total of 15,371 COVID-19 cases, but just 1,934 vaccinations.
In zip code 60632, which includes predominantly Hispanic and Black Archer Heights, there were a total of 11,958 COVID-19 cases and just 1,459 vaccinations as of January 26.
As of January 26, the 19 zip codes on the South Side had a total of 25,086 vaccinations and 79,119 COVID-19 cases.
On the West Side, seven zip codes had a total of 10,843 vaccinations and 51,866 COVID-19 cases. Unlike the affluent zip codes on the North Side and the Loop, none of the zip codes on the West Side had more vaccinations than COVID-19 cases. In zip code 60623, there were 9,810 COVID-19 cases and just 1,522 vaccinations.
On January 25 at a press conference at St. Bernard Hospital in Englewood, Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged to boost vaccination rates in the city’s Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
As Chicago moves into Phase 1B of the vaccination effort, which involves inoculating seniors 65 and older, Lightfoot outlined further efforts to bolster the equity plan to ensure that vaccine reaches the individuals and communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the race/ethnicity of individuals who have received a first dose of the vaccine are as follows: Latinx 17 percent; Black, non-Latinx 15 percent; White, non-Latinx 53 percent; Asian, non-Latinx 14 percent; other, non-Latinx 0.4 percent; and unknown 7 percent.
“As I’ve said often during the pandemic, equity is not only part of our COVID-19 strategy, equity is our strategy,” said Lightfoot, who was joined by community partners at St. Bernard Hospital in announcing the initiative.
“All of us, city government and our many important community partners, need to work every day to ensure the vaccine is getting to those who need it most and that when it’s available people take it.”
The initiative, called Protect Chicago Plus, builds on the work of Mayor Lightfoot’s Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, an initiative that was integral to the city in deploying resources to the communities most in need throughout the pandemic.
The program includes partnerships with community-based organizations and social service agencies, faith communities, and City Council members to host vaccination events.
The City also plans to expand a program that deploys outreach teams and community health workers to go door-to-door and be present in grocery stores, laundromats, and other high-traffic areas to share information and assist with scheduling appointments.
“We’ve made equity the central focus of our work from the beginning of this pandemic, and Protect Chicago Plus is designed to reach even deeper into these communities that have been so impacted,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “And by accelerating vaccination in the highest-risk communities, we also reduce the risk of spread across all of Chicago.”
The city is seeking to boost vaccinations in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods of West Englewood, New City, Gage Park, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Roseland, Archer Heights, Washington Heights, Austin, Montclare, South Deering, Belmont Cragin and Humboldt Park.
In response to concerns of lack of transportation and access to hospitals, vaccinations are now available at Walgreens, Walmart, Jewel Osco and health centers throughout the city and Cook County. Walgreens is providing vaccinations at all 92 of its stores. On January 26, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a new website—coronavirus.illinois.gov—where residents can find locations for vaccinations.
Malcolm X College is one of six mass vaccination sites that the city set up for residents.
On the South Side, there are three mass vaccination sites: Kennedy-King College in Englewood, Richard J. Daley College in Ashburn and Olive-Harvey College in Pullman. Residents must make an appointment to be vaccinated.
Addressing the dwindling supply of doses of vaccines, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. ordered an additional 200 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna for a total 600 million.
The fresh supply will be distributed to hospitals and clinics in cities across the nation.