Chicago — Homeless young adults may be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine as part of Chicago’s plan for equitable vaccine distribution.
According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, in 2018, there were 16,580 unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 14-24. Of those, 94% lived in other people’s homes rather than on the street or in shelters.
“Long-term care facilities or homeless shelters where we’re at, where we’ve disproportionally seen a lot of cases, we know it’s hard to always have all of the distancing and all of those things in place,” Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady told NBC Chicago.
The city has administered more than half a million doses of the vaccine, and 2,000 of those went to homeless shelters. The health department plans to prioritize vaccines for communities that face barriers to health access, such as lack of health insurance or primary care.
“We are so grateful to CDPH for providing these vaccines. Prioritizing people experiencing homelessness and prioritizing people in Black and Brown communities is critical,” said Dr. Alex Porte, a physician at Pacific Garden Mission. On Tuesday, 170 residents and staff at the mission received their second vaccine dose.
According to Arwady, equitable vaccine distribution is critical to lowering COVID cases in Chicago, whose positivity rate of 3.2% is at the lowest it has been since the virus arrived.