CHICAGO - Chicago’s top doctor on Tuesday said she expects the city to roll out a type of vaccination passport that would allow people – particularly young adults – to attend concerts and other events this summer and going forward.
"If you get a vaccine, you’ll be able to get into a concert or get into an event – and really thinking particularly for younger people how can we make vaccine something that people are excited about getting?" Dr. Allison Arwady said.
She said the "Vax Pass" would likely debut in May.
"You wanna be part of the fun? Get vaccinated," Arwady said.
The city will never require that residents be vaccinated but is looking for ways to incentivize it, she added.
"I would hope that for most people their main incentive is to be able to stay healthy, keep their families healthy, keep their communities healthy," Arwady said. "But we also know, younger people in particular may be excited about the idea of getting into events, for example, that might be limited to people who are vaccinated."
The announcement comes on the same day Illinois reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases and 23 additional deaths.
Dr. Arwady also mentioned a program in the works called "Vax and Relax," which would involve the city collaborating with businesses to give out free services in exchange for someone receiving the vaccine.
"You’ll be hearing more about ‘Vax and Relax,’ which is gonna be some work partnering with barber shops, salons, nail salons – thinking about giving people free haircuts and nail treatments and pairing that with vaccination," she said.
"Our goal is to work to bring vaccine to people, build that confidence and build that convenience," Arwady added.
In addition, public health officials in Chicago hope more opportunities and incentives to get a COVID-19 vaccine will improve the vaccination rate among people older than 65 and in the city’s largely Black and Latino communities.
"We all want to put this behind us, and getting a vaccination is the way to do it," Dr. Arwady said.
Arwady said 65% of city residents older than 65 have received at least one dose — lower than the 81% rate among that age group nationwide. She also highlighted lagging rates of people who have received at least one dose in neighborhoods on the the city’s South and West sides.
City data as of Monday showed 43% of Chicagoans had received a first dose and 29% were fully vaccinated.
"We have a lot of work to do," both providing convenient opportunities to get vaccinated and building confidence in it, Arwady said.
Chicago’s plans include programs for homebound residents, tents at festivals or block parties, traveling buses and events geared toward college students or workers in specific industries, she said.
Mass vaccination sites will remain open for walk-ins and appointments.
Arwady said staff at the federally-backed site at Chicago’s United Center will administer final first doses on May 10 then will provide only second doses of the Pfizer vaccine and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson formula via drive-up. The city plans to continue using the United Center for drive-up vaccination once federal partners leave, she said.
If you have any questions about vaccines or want to set up an appointment to receive the shot, visit zocdoc.com/vaccine or call the Chicago Vaccine Hotline at 312-746-4835.
Associated Press contributed to this report.