Edgeville Buzz

Local Help Strengthens As Race To Vaccinate Intensifies In Edgewater

Like a page out of Hollywood script, the race to vaccinate the population becomes increasingly urgent as COVID variants create skyrocketing numbers in new cases across the country. For the most vulnerable residents in Edgewater and Andersonville, the drama is all too real as they search for life-saving shots that will protect them from the virus.

The task of making sure our friends and neighbors survive the pandemic has become a priority of the 48th Ward. With the last group of the first phase qualifying this week for their shots, it is essential that they are vaccinated before all Chicagoans 16 years of age or older (Phase 2) are able to start accessing the vaccine as soon as May 1. To help

Unfortunately there are some qualified for the first phase that may not have the same access needed to get immunized; namely seniors, minorities and those who may be experiencing economic hardship. To assist them in accessing up-to-date information on the vaccine and how to get their shot, the 48th Ward has created an online resource page,COVID hotline number (224-698-7507) and email (48thwardcovid@gmail.com).

According to 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, their mission started as residents’ food assistance needs multiplied after the shutdown a year ago. As the health crisis evolved, the program took on the task of educating the public about safety measures such as wearing masks. At the end of last year the vaccine was introduced and the need to again shift their attention to immunization efforts in the 48th Ward became apparent.

“We all know that very early on there was not enough vaccine to go around,” said Ald. Osterman. “So there was a panic to get what ever vaccine was available. It was very challenging but even more so for older residents who may not be as computer savvy. Our goal is to connect all people with available vaccine.”

To solve the problem, the 48th Ward’s Senior Living liaison Ginger Williams teamed up with Loyola’s Monica Dillon and its nursing students to help guide eligible residents through the process. Once the vaccine became increasingly available, the team worked with local health providers such as Oak Street Health, Weiss Hospital, Swedish Covenant and other area providers to connect those residents with available shots.

“There is a certain level of trust and comfort when you are reaching out to local people,” the Alderman added. “Healthcare in general has gone online with things like appointments and it can be frustrating for many. Sometimes having a live person walk you through it such as our volunteers, the nursing students, and the 48th Ward staff has made all the difference. There has been a lot of cases where we have helped residents get the vaccine and that has made them very happy.”

The Alderman mentioned that Chicago is likely to start door-to-door visits starting in May that will help distribute shots to those that are more home-bound. There are also plans to organize strike teams who will vaccinate those who are eligible in high-occupancy buildings throughout the city.

Most recently, a massive vaccination site at the United Center has taken centerstage. Though it is important to have large-scale sites to get shots to a greater number of people, Ald. Osterman believes that many could be intimidated by the size of the operation and the travel required to access them. He is currently trying to organize a stand alone site in Edgewater, possibly the Broadway Armory, to reach area residents.

“Having a vaccination site on the North Side would be very good because it is more approachable,” said Ald. Osterman. “If it is down the street or just a few blocks away then people can see it and figure out how to get there. Just like early on with getting tests and groceries, people need to visualize how to go from their home to that location.”

The plan is to continue the program through the year as all Chicagoans 16 years of age and over are eligible for a shot. Once there is enough vaccine to reach everyone and peer pressure convinces the reluctant to get immunized, then the 48th Ward will look at ending the initiative.

“The cases where we were able to help people gave everyone a certain sense of relief,” Ald. Osterman proudly added. “If we can help them break through the bureaucracy, they are very appreciative. The truth is that for me and all of us at the 48th Ward Office, this is what it is all about. The more people we are able to get connected to the vaccines, it’s good for them and its good for the community.”

 


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