“I think it’s likely that we will be vaccinating here in Chicago, probably the third week of December or the fourth week of December depending on how the federal timeline pays out,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner. “Which means literally two weeks from today, we could be talking about vaccination.”
WATCH: Chicago’s top doctor discusses COVID-19 vaccine plan
Vaccine advisers to the CDC voted 13-1 Tuesday to recommend both health care workers and residents of long term care facilities be first in line for any vaccines that receive FDA emergency use authorization.
The decision is non-binding. It will be up to state and local officials to decide where the doses go first, but plans are in place to prioritize health care workers across the city.
“We have plans that will start with, with all 37 Chicago hospitals, receiving vaccine for its healthcare workers, not yet for patients. And we have plans for all 128 long term care facilities in Chicago,” Dr. Arwady said.
Chicago is expecting to receive an initial disbursement between 20,000-25,000 doses shortly after the first vaccine from Pfizer gets approved, which could happen on December 10 when the FDA meets to consider the request for emergency use.
Those doses will be part of the 109,000 doses the state said it expects to get. Both the city and state anticipate health care workers with direct contact with COVID-19 patients are expected to be part of the first tier of those getting vaccines. Those in long term care facilities, like nursing homes, will be next.
And while the city is encouraging everyone to get the vaccine once it’s more widely available, it won’t be forced on anyone.
“We are not anticipating at this point a sort of a city requirement around vaccine or a national requirement around vaccine,” Dr. Arwady said. “And in this early stage where it’s still under emergency use authorization and where it’s just not widely available, we would not anticipate vaccine mandates in any setting.”
Gov. JB Pritzker echoed those sentiments, saying that there are not any state vaccine mandates, but they will look at the history of vaccines for context and things could change. He said the state expects to announce a tiered plan later this week.
Health care workers will be the first priority, but the state is promising equity as vaccines become more widely available.
“There are a lot of people who are very vulnerable, as you know, who have comorbidities, you know, who are in communities that have been ill affected because of the prevalence of disease just in general or the failure of health care in those communities,” Gov. Pritzker said.
The goal is for the vaccine to be available to most Americans by next summer.
“We’ve been ready and we are ready to start COVID-19 vaccine administration when the trials are done,” said Arwady.
Under Chicago’s vaccine plan, thousands of the first doses would go to frontline healthcare workers immediately. First responders and long-term care facility residents would also have priority.
“We are working with our hospitals. We are enrolling them to vaccine providers. We are getting additional information from them on their healthcare worker numbers and who may fit in those higher risk categories,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, CDPH medical director.
Chicago’s vaccine shortage and distribution plan has already been well crafted with expanded capacity for different temperatures, a plan to receive multiple vaccines and expanded hours and services at city clinics to distribute doses.
“We actually used our flu clinics as an opportunity to practice for our COVID-19 vaccine administration,” Robinson said.
“By the time we get to April, they would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population of the normal, healthy young man or woman — 30 years old, who’s got no underlying conditions [and] can walk in to a CVS or Walgreens and get vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
As of Tuesday morning, the Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery said if the goal is to gets kids back to school as soon as possible, teachers should be on the priority list for a vaccine. He said teachers are ready.
“I think the vast majority of teachers are going to get vaccinated when it’s safe and appropriate,” Montgomery said.
In the meantime, drug maker Pfizer is moving supplemental shipments from production in Belgium to a storage facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, so that the minute the FDA approves the vaccine for emergency use, those first shots will be ready to rush across the country.
In Illinois, the state’s top doctor Ngozi Ezike is advising Illinois residents to be patient.
“There’s going to be like a phase 1-A and 1-B and 1-C, and that alone will take, you know, several months to roll out,” Dr. Ezike said. “So it’s not a matter of Dec. 10 — maybe there’s vaccines several days later. Great. We’re all set.”
Three states were last added to the orange category in Chicago’s updated travel quarantine order on November 17.
It was the first update since the order was revamped with a new color-coded system.
As part of the new system, states are placed in three categories: red, orange and yellow.
On November 17, California, New Hampshire and New York moved from the yellow category to the orange category.
States in the yellow category have a rolling seven-day average of under 15 cases per-day per-100,000 residents. No quarantine or pre-arrival test is required.
States in the orange category have a rolling seven-day average of between 15 cases per-day per-100,000 residents and the Chicago rolling seven-day average, currently 60 cases per-day per-100,000. A 14-day quarantine or a pre-arrival test of no more than 72 hours before arrival is required.
States in the red category have a rolling seven-day average of cases per-day per-100,000 residents above Chicago’s rate. A 14-day quarantine is mandatory.
Only three states are in the yellow category (no requirements): Maine, Hawaii, Vermont
However, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said non-essential travel is still not recommended to yellow states.
-34 orange states and Puerto Rico (must quarantine or receive a pre-arrival negative test result): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
-12 red states (must quarantine): Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
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