The COVID vaccine supersite opens at Malcolm X College in Chicago for health care workers who are not hospitalized

CHICAGO (WLS) – The city of Chicago opened its first mass vaccination clinic in Malcolm X College on the Near West Side on Tuesday morning.

This supersite will enable the city to protect its health workers from COVID-19. The website will only focus on health workers who are not affiliated with the hospital and need an appointment. It is not open to the public.

“I honestly can’t feel it,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health.

Arwady said there is no jump in front of her. As an outpatient healthcare professional, she and thousands of other non-hospital healthcare professionals qualify for the vaccine.

Also among those to be vaccinated is Chris Ballinger, who treats COVID-19 patients at Physicians Immediate Care.

“Recently, we’ve had an increase in patients, so it’s nice to finally get to this point,” Ballinger said.

Ballinger said he did not hesitate to take the vaccine. Not dr. Florence Roche, who also works at immediate care facilities.

“It’s a start, it’s always good to be hopeful and to have the right direction,” Roche said.

“The first thing is to make sure your practice is already registered with the city of Chicago, it could be a dental practice, patient, school, nurse.” says Arwady.

After registration, the city sends a code to make an appointment. After being vaccinated, the city follows up on text messages asking about any side effects.

Dr. Arwady said it was a process that was likely to take the next few months. She does not expect the vaccination to start with the next group (1B) for a few weeks. For teachers, it can be longer.

“If I had to set a timeline, it would be in the spring of March-April, it depends on how much vaccine we get,” Arwady said.

Prior to the supersite, the city had reserved the vaccine for hospital staff. However, public health officials began distributing vaccines to nursing homes and health care workers Monday.

RELATED: COVID Vaccine: Chicago Modern Survey Begins at Brighton Park Clinic

As part of Chicago’s focus on equity, some of the first doses of Moderna vaccines were given at Esperanza Health in Brighton Park, an area with a test positivity rate that is more than double the national average.

“Portions of the Latinx community remain in crisis, and I want to make sure we do not lose sight of that,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The Wentworth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Englewood was the first long-term care facility in Chicago to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, as the city continues to ensure minority communities keep the vaccine safe.

Dr. Arwady said health care workers and long-term care facilities will keep the vaccine throughout January and probably throughout February. In the spring, the vaccination will move to older Chicago residents and essential workers.

More than 20,000 vaccinations have been given to health workers in Chicago hospitals.

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.