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The arrival of COVID-19 Vaccine Brings Hope to the Masses By Cassiette West-Williams

he spirited Elizabeth Jennings is still riding the fence on whether or not to volunteer to receive the free COVID-19 vaccine. Illinois has experienced more than 13, 487 deaths so far from the COVID-19 virus. More than 804,174 residents have battled COVID-19, according to state records.

Illinois is expected to receive its first shipment between December 13 thru the 18th and then weekly distributions to follow, as Governor JB Pritzker outlined a timetable for the vaccine to be shared statewide.

“I think they have rushed it, so it can get to the people faster. There is a lot of death around here (on the Southside of Chicago), so I get it,” said Jennings. “But for me, I’ll wait awhile…They are going to have to work out the kinks in that medicine first before I get it in my system,” she said.

Jennings did not gather with her relatives and friends during Thanksgiving, rarely leaves the house, washes her hands regularly, and wears her mask, when she is outside. She is 69 years old and in good health, so the vaccine is not a priority to her, as it is with many others.

With the arrival of the FDA approved Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, one wonders when the drug will become available to the general population at large.

The vaccine was sent to 50 out of 109 counties, which had the highest death rate in the state. Those counties include Dupage, Cook, Lake, and Kane counties. 

Jennings is correct in that Cook County has a very high COVID-19 death toll, and Chicago will receive its own case of vials to distribute in the future. Health officials are saying that it will not be enough to incorporate the high need of every city resident who wants to partake of the vaccine.

Pfizer received approval first in this country. Press reports say that there is an order as to who should receive the drug: first responders (Police and firefighters), medical staff (all hospital workers who interact with patients), and the elderly (people who are 65 and older).

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said that COVID studies have taken place for years, under much scrutiny. Illinois also has its own evaluation panel. More than 13,487 Illinois residents have lost their lives to COVID, and the worst has not hit the hospitals yet. Safety is the highest priority of Illinois health officials, Pritzker said. He emphasized that the vaccine was tested on animals and mice for months before human beings volunteered for the trial clinics. The vaccine was shown to have some side effects, including fatigue and headaches.

Former U. S.  Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush, and Bill Clinton said they would take the vaccine in public, being filmed, to boost confidence in the procedure.

An all-out campaign is in the works to encourage a positive response to the vaccine from communities that are deeply impacted by this virus, which includes people of color (African Americans and Latinos), the elderly, the shut-in, and those persons who are bound to a senior care facility (nursing home).

Pritzker said that Walgreens and CVS would administer the drug at long term facilities. United and American Airlines are transporting the vaccine to Chicago’s O’Hara Airport, as they have purchased the correct freezer equipment to store the medicine properly. The vaccine must be used within six hours once it is opened and injected into patients. Some patients will take two doses of the vaccine, six weeks apart, while others will have a single dose.