CHICAGO — The city’s top doctor was vaccinated against coronavirus during a livestreamed event Tuesday morning.
Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said she was “absolutely thrilled” to be vaccinated and didn’t feel any immediate side effects after getting a shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Every person, every vaccine that we give here in Chicago takes us one step closer to normal,” Arwady said. “It is a responsibility for people, for themselves, for their families, for society” to get vaccinated.
Arwady received her shot at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd., where the city opened its first mass vaccination site for health care workers Tuesday. The city has vaccinated more than 20,000 people already, most of them working in Chicago hospitals, but it’s starting to vaccinate long-term care facility residents and workers and outpatient health care workers.
Arwady said she’s been excitedly waiting to get vaccinated, but she wanted to wait until it was her turn in the line. As a health care provider, she was eligible to be vaccinated under federal recommendations.
The doctor said she strongly wanted her vaccination to be done publicly so it would encourage others to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m excited about it,” Arwady said. “I have done all of the reading myself. I have looked in detail at all of the trials, research. I know, also, the process of how vaccines are approved. I know that no steps were skipped in terms of safety of this. But I know that not everybody maybe has the time or the scientific background to be able [to do that].
“… I think for me getting vaccinated publicly, it says I’m not just encouraging you to get vaccinated — I, myself, certainly am excited to get this. And I’ll be able to answer really honestly about, ‘Did you have side effects?’ or ‘Were there any concerns?’ Because I know people are interested in that.”
Arwady and other officials have said they hope everyone will eventually get vaccinated, though it will be months before vaccines are available more widely due to the limited supply and high demand.
Officials have said the vaccines will eventually mark an end to the pandemic — but only if enough people get them.
This is “how we start to get back to normal, as more and more people get it,” Arwady said.
Vaccinating health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff will likely take all of January and February, Arwady said. The city might be able to start vaccinating the next groups of people — certain frontline workers and people 75 and older — at the end of February or early spring, she said.
Arwady said she signed up online to get her vaccine — as many other health care workers will have to — once she was eligible. She followed other safety protocols, like filling out a questionnaire about her medical history and waiting 15 minutes after getting the shot to ensure she didn’t have an allergic reaction.
Arwady said she felt no pain or soreness, and she noted many people do not report any side effects or, if they do, the effects are largely mild.
The doctor also showed off a sticker people will get when getting vaccinated, as well as a card that will have information about the vaccine dose they got.
Arwady will have to return to the college in three weeks for a second dose of the vaccine.
In the meantime — and even after getting that second dose — the doctor said she will keep wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and taking other safety steps to keep herself and people around herself safe. Officials have said people will need to take such precautions until well into 2021 since it will be months before there’s widespread vaccinations.
“Please, when it is your chance to get vaccinated, please: Make that choice. In the meantime, get educated,” she said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. JB Pritzker and other city and state officials have also said they’ll be vaccinated publicly when it’s their turn.
You can watch Arwady’s vaccination here:
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