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Chicago Preparing For Coronavirus Vaccine — But Lightfoot Says She’d Be ‘Shocked’ If It Happens By Election Day

Officials are worried the vaccine's timing is being politicized. "I'm very concerned about the fact that the CDC is now connecting about vaccines in connections with elections," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference announcing a statewide stay-in-place order Friday, March 20.
Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she’d be “shocked” if a coronavirus vaccine is available before Election Day in November.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has notified public health officials in Chicago and other places to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine “to health care workers and other high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November,” The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The report alarmed officials throughout the country who worried the timing of the vaccine was being politicized to help President Donald Trump, who is trailing in the polls as the United States fumbles its COVID-19 response. Previously, experts said a vaccine likely wouldn’t be safely approved and available until the end of the year or early 2021.

Lightfoot, speaking at an unrelated press conference Thursday, also expressed worries.

“I’m very concerned about the fact that the CDC is now talking about vaccines in connection with elections,” Lightfoot said. “… That should not be happening. We should always be focused, particularly when it comes to response to COVID-19, on what the science tells us.”

The Chicago Department of Public Health has been preparing “for some time” for a vaccination campaign, Lightfoot said.

The mayor and the city’s health commissioner, Allison Arwady, have repeatedly spoken about how the city is making plans to vaccinate as many Chicagoans as possible.

RELATED: City’s New Chi COVID Coach App Lets You Sign Up For Vaccine Alerts, Testing Information And More

Arwady has said she expects the vaccine to be available starting late this year or in early 2021, with frontline workers — like health care workers — and people who are more at risk expected to get vaccinated first.

Women who are pregnant and young children likely won’t be able to get the vaccine right away, as more research will be needed to determine if it safe for them.

Earlier this week, Arwady said she expects it will take a full year to get everyone vaccinated.

Lightfoot poo-poohed the idea a vaccination could be available by Nov. 3, Election Day.

“I would be shocked if that happens before Election Day,” Lightfoot said. “That’s why I’m deeply concerned about the CDC talking at all about anything other than what the science is, what the results are of the Phase 3 trials. That’s the language of the CDC; not elections.”

Chicagoans interested in signing up for vaccination information can sign up online for information from the health department.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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