NORTH LAWNDALE — The city launched a coronavirus vaccination site Monday in North Lawndale as part of an effort to make vaccines more available to Black and Latino Chicagoans.
Any North Lawndale resident who is an adult can get vaccinated at the Lawndale Christian Health Center clinic inside Homan Square Community Center, 3517 W. Arthington St.
The clinic will vaccinate up to 200 people each weekday with a goal of administering 1,000 shots per week. The center will give people their first doses for four weeks and will then switch to giving second doses.
All North Lawndale residents 18 and older can schedule a vaccination appointment by calling 872-588-3829. The vaccines are free regardless of insurance and no ID is required.
“Looking out for the most marginalized, the most under-resourced communities is very important. We’re going to keep our community safe, but it also impacts the entirety of Chicago,” said James Brooks, chief ministry officer at Lawndale Christian Health Center.
North Lawndale is being prioritized for vaccines as part of the Protect Chicago Plus program. Through the program, 15 community areas deemed more vulnerable to COVID-19 are provided with resources — including vaccine doses — to make it easier for residents to get vaccinated.
The city’s strategy for boosting vaccinations in Black and Latino neighborhoods grew out of the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team led by city officials in partnership with West Side United. The task force was convened in the spring after data from early in the pandemic showed Black Chicagoans accounted for 70 percent of deaths related to coronavirus, despite making up just 30 percent of the city’s population.
Disparities have narrowed, but Black and Latino Chicagoans have still been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic.
At the same time, fewer people of color were being vaccinated when the city’s campaign got started in December. Officials estimated about 53 percent of vaccinated Chicagoans were white, 14 percent Asian, 15 percent Black and 17 percent Latino.
Now that the city has opened vaccinations to more people and started Protect Chicago Plus, more Black and Latino residents are getting the shots: 41.4 percent of vaccinated last week were white, 5.6 percent Asian, 23.6 percent Black and 26.2 percent Latino
The city’s strategy aims to educate residents about the vaccines and make the shots easier to get, Deputy Mayor Sybil Madison said. The program leans on partnerships with well-known neighborhood groups to meet residents where they’re at “to really set the table and bring community voice into the process,” Madison said.
“It’s only through these kind of partnerships that we’ll reach people who actually live in this community and make sure that they have not only information about this clinic, but also the information they need to know to build confidence in taking the vaccine,” Madison said.
Churches and faith-based organizations are trusted messengers in many Black neighborhoods, like North Lawndale, said Vance Henry, a North Lawndale native and the mayor’s chief of faith engagement. Working through reliable neighborhood partners will encourage more people to seriously consider the vaccines, he said.
“They’re taking barriers out of it and they’re making it readily accessible to a community that is disproportionately represented in the rate of the virus and, tragically, in the rate of death,” Henry said.
Making the vaccine available to all residents also makes it easier to access, said Ald. Michael Scott (24th).
“It takes the guesswork out of who gets a shot, where do you get the shot, how do you get the shot. There is no ambiguity here,” Scott said.
The clinic at the Homan Square Community Center is in a location many families visit often, and it sits near several bus lines and a Blue Line station. Having a vaccination site where all adults can get immunized at a convenient location will also open up conversations and draw more residents in through word of mouth, Scott said.
“I think it just opens up the amount of availability to the shot, and the awareness around this virus and how to protect yourself,” Scott said.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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