Last Friday, a group of volunteers teamed up with local officials to fight racial and economic inequity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. In partnership with Oak Street Health, state Rep. Will Guzzardi, state Sen. Christina Pacione-Zayas and state Rep. Jaime Andrade hosted a community vaccine clinic at Aspira Business and Finance High School (2989 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
Pfizer vaccines were available to any Chicago resident from the Northwest Side over age 16. UPDATE: By the end of the day, 853 shots were distributed out of the 1,000 appointments that were available. The event was the culmination of sustained phone banking done by volunteers with Guzzardi’s office to sign up residents from underrepresented vaccine communities, particularly Belmont Cragin and Hermosa. This clinic also prioritized individuals with disabilities, who were expedited through the line to get shots.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, and so the second-shot clinic is scheduled for Saturday, May 22. That event will also take place at Aspira, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and will be only a second-shot event for those who were at the April 30 clinic. Community members can volunteer to help out at the second-dose event, too. UPDATE: Fill out this form if you want to volunteer, or you can contact Guzzardi’s office at 773-853-2570.
Other options for getting the vaccine in the area include Humboldt Park Health (1044 N. Francisco Ave.), Wilbur Wright College (4300 N. Narragansett Ave.), Erie Family Health Center (2750 W. North Ave.) and other federally qualified health centers, Guzzardi’s office said. The City of Chicago website also hosts a vaccine finder to help residents locate a nearby place to get a shot. City officials additionally reccommend checking with your “health care provider, including your primary care provider, health clinic or hospital where you have gotten medical care in the past.” The city announced in late April that it had enough vaccine for everyone age 16 and older who wants one, even making mass vaccination sites like the United Center open for walk-in vaccinations. City public health officials welcomed Chicagoans aged 16 or older to sign up on ZocDoc or by calling the city’s hotline at 312-746-4835, BlockClub reported.
About 50 volunteers assisted with duties at the Guzzardi event, including directing residents to register for doses, administering shots and monitoring residents once they received their vaccine. Volunteers also worked event security, assisted residents on support tables, worked check-in tables, and worked as vaccine runners and documenters. Staffers from 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s office were among the volunteers as well. I worked as a volunteer for the entire event as a flow manager, assisting with keeping the line orderly by directing people to check-in tables and ensuring we were not crowding certain strategic areas such as the school front desk. I also answered questions on where participants needed to go.
“Thanks to the dedication of over 50 volunteers, we were able to bring 1,000 vaccines to our community on Friday,” said Emily Melbye, chief of staff for Guzzardi. “Our clinic outreach centered on working with mutual aid groups and social service agencies to ensure folks in our hardest-hit communities were able to get vaccinated. This truly was a community effort.”
Peak hours were early in the morning and in the early afternoon lunch hour, when the line down Milwaukee Avenue stretched to the intersection of Central Park. All the vaccine shots were first dose only.
The event ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. At first, the hosting elected officials had planned to distribute the (single-dose) Johnson and Johnson vaccine at this event, but when use of that vaccine was temporarily halted due to health concerns, the event pivoted to using Pfizer’s shots instead.
Featured photo: Volunteers with Oak Street Health distribute Pfizer doses. Photo: Scott Jauch
This article has been corrected: The May 22 second-dose event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.