Five front-line health care workers—two physicians, two registered
nurses and one respiratory therapist—are expected to be the first
to get the highly anticipated shots, the source said.
Loretto treats large numbers of Black and Brown patients in Austin, one
of the neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic. In addition to offering
COVID tests, the hospital is in the midst of enrolling patients in clinical
trials to study new COVID vaccine candidates, with the goal of ensuring
minorities are represented. People of color historically have been underrepresented
in such studies.
Without unlimited cold storage, local hospitals will need to administer
the Pfizer vaccines they get within five days, according to the Cook County
Department of Public Health. The department will store the additional
initial doses, and future shipments are expected to be sent directly to
the hospitals as needed.
Israel Rocha, CEO of two-hospital Cook County Health, said the public system
expects to start vaccinating a small number of workers Dec. 16. About
1,000 employees who “perform aerosolizing generating procedures,”
as well as those who have “high contact with COVID-19 staff,”
will be included in the first phase of the rollout, he said. The phase
is expected to be complete by Dec. 24.
While CCH workers are not required to get vaccinated, the majority of employees
who have responded to a survey indicated that they intend to get the shots,
After getting the vaccines, individuals will be observed for at least 15
minutes to manage any potential allergic reactions and thereafter for
any side effects, said Dr. Kiran Joshi, who co-leads the Cook County Department
of Public Health. Those who experience adverse reactions will be entitled
to a “COVID day” off.
Health care workers who get their first shots this week will return for
their second doses in a few weeks and are expected to be fully protected
from the virus a couple weeks after that.
While the vaccines are intended to prevent people from getting sick, it's
not known whether individuals who get vaccinated can still carry and transmit
The vaccine was allocated to local hospitals based on the number of essential
personnel and the impact of COVID-19 on the facilities, Joshi said.
Long-term care facility residents and staff are expected to get access
to vaccines within the next two weeks, he added, followed by unaffiliated
health care workers (such as those working in emergency medical services)
and essential workers, including first responders and people who work
for public utilities. Next up would be high-risk adults.
Meanwhile, the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines arrived today at the Illinois
Strategic National Stockpile. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a press briefing
today that the state got nearly half of the 109,000 total doses it’s
expecting in the first phase of the rollout, and additional shipments
are expected in the coming weeks.
The federal government shipped doses directly to the city of Chicago and
four large public health departments in Illinois: Cook, Lake, Madison
and St. Clair counties, Pritzker said.
“Today marks a momentous occasion—not just this year, but in
American history,” Pritzker said in a statement. "Eleven months
after scientists the world over first got their hands on the genetic sequence
of this virus—and we are seeing the beginning of the end of this
Pritzker said that after Moderna's vaccine is authorized, there should
be enough doses to supply all the skilled-nursing facilities that have
signed up to get vaccines.
Hospitals are expected to stagger vaccine administration by unit in case
large numbers of workers experience side effects that require them to
stay home for a day or two, Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during today’s