Chicago officials prepare for vaccine distribution in coming weeks

The CDC is now recommending the nation's 21-million healthcare workers and 3-million long-term care facility residents be first in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, Chicago officials are getting ready to distribute it.

“Two weeks from today, we could be talking about vaccination, a lot of details to come. We are ready when this vaccine is available,” said Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The Pfizer vaccine still needs to be approved by the FDA, but on Tuesday, a CDC panel voted to recommend, as expected, healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents should be vaccinated first.

The panel is expected to vote later on Phase Two, but it appears essential workers and adults 65 and older may be next on the list.

“We have plans that will start with, with all 37 Chicago hospitals, receiving the vaccine for healthcare workers, not yet for patients. And we have plans for all 128 longterm care facilities in Chicago,” Arwady said.

Arwady, who is Chicago’s health commissioner, says the city has built a cold storage warehouse that can house more than 130,000 doses, which would help hospitals without storage capacity.

“We felt very strongly that we wanted to make sure all hospitals, including smaller safety net hospitals, would be getting access to this vaccine,” Arwady said.

Governor JB Pritzker says the state is set to receive 109,000 doses, with the city of Chicago getting 20 to 25,000 of that.

Tuesday's recommendations on who should get the vaccine first still needs approval from the CDC director.