Chicago’s vaccine disparity widens | South side, IL Patch
Now that the city’s campaign to immunize highly vulnerable communities is over, what progress has been made in reducing the immunization gap between Protect Chicago Plus community areas and the city average?
An analysis by the Weekly shows that the gap between the targeted postal codes and the rest of the city has actually increased over time. That is, the Protect Chicago Plus program does not have his stated goal to “get these communities to meet or exceed citywide immunization rates.”
Data visualizations by Charmaine Runes
In January, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced an initiative called Protect Chicago Plus prioritize fifteen of the most vulnerable neighborhoods, mostly in black and brown communities on the south and west sides, for critical COVID-19 vaccines. These neighborhoods were: West Englewood, Gage Park, North Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Roseland, Archer Heights, Washington Heights, Austin, Montclare, South Deering, Belmont Cragin, Humboldt Park, La Villita and Back of the Yards.
On February 25, a month after Protect Chicago Plus launched, the city average for fully immunized people was 5.9%, while the postal code average for Protect Chicago Plus was 2.9%, or a difference of three percentage points.
However, by May 25, as vaccine supply improved, the gap had narrowed to eight percentage points, with a city-wide average of 41% and the Protect Chicago Over average of 33%. .
Additionally, full vaccination rates continued to vary geographically: from 90% in zip code 60603 in the loop, to 23% in 60621 in Englewood, a target area of Protect Chicago Plus. And immunization rates in other Protect Chicago Plus zip codes are still far behind the rest of the city.
Even though the percentage of fully immunized residents in all zip codes is increasing, the daily Twitter maps released by ChiVaxBot did not seem to change much, causing some confusion, as despite the increase in vaccination rates in the city, the disparity between the south and west sides and the rest of the city remains.
After nearly five months of reporting people dying who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, we decided to update the bot to also illustrate the changes over time. Starting next week, we’ll be posting a second daily tweet that shows a GIF (an animated graphic) of fully vaccinated residents by zip code, and how the percentage has changed from week to week.
The maps above illustrate what this GIF might look like if we looked at month-to-month vaccination rates: the darker the pink, the lower the full vaccination rate; and the darker the green, the higher the full vaccination rate.
As of February 25, a month after Protect Chicago Plus launched, less than ten percent of residents in most zip codes were fully immunized. A month later, richer postal codes on the north side, as well as in Hyde Park, Beverly, Morgan Park, Mount Greenwood, Garfield Ridge and Clearing, were in the 10-20% fully vaccinated range, while the rest of Chicago remained below 10%.
By the end of April, the percentage of fully vaccinated residents in many zip codes on the south and west sides had improved, but was still far behind the Far North and Loop areas.
The first postcodes to cross the fifty percent fully vaccinated mark were in Lakeview and near the Loop, but less than a third of residents in South Side neighborhoods like Englewood and Riverdale were fully vaccinated.
We hope this clarifies that vaccination rates in several neighborhoods are in fact increasing, while keeping an eye out for the divide between the south and west sides and the rest of the city.
With the program officially over, the city is using its mobile vaccination bus to make vaccinations more accessible in four neighborhoods in the south and west. As of press time, the bus is parked in South Shore on Wednesdays, Englewood and Roseland on Thursdays, and Austin on Fridays; and will offer either a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or a two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Anyone over the age of twelve is eligible – no appointment necessary.
In early June, the CDPH announced door-to-door canvassing plans for increase their hyperlocal vaccination. The city is focusing on the following thirteen communities to begin with, many of which were part of Protect Chicago Plus’s initial efforts: Auburn Gresham, Austin, Chatham, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Hegewisch, Montclare, Riverdale, Roseland, South Deering, Rive- South, West Englewood and West Garfield Park. Survey teams will visit each household in each of these neighborhoods to promote and facilitate vaccination; they will share information about nearby vaccination sites and events, as well as identifying the elderly and others who may need home vaccinations.
As Chicago reopens, masking and social distancing guidelines loosen, boosting vaccination rates and closing the vaccination gap between the two Chicago will be even larger.
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Charmaine Runes is the weekly’s fact-checking director and a recent graduate of the University of Chicago’s Computational Analysis and Public Policy program. She last wrote about the black racing groups on the south side.
The South Side Weekly is a non-profit newspaper dedicated to supporting cultural and civic engagement in the South Side and the development of emerging journalists, writers and artists. Read more on southsideweekly.com.