We are often asked, how do you distribute your vaccines? Is it all just a race to snag an appointment online faster than others? Unfortunately, there is a race for a subset of our appointments online, however that is far from the only way we do it. Let me explain.
Our first priority is to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations of people. As a center who has conducted upward of 300,000 COVID-19 tests to date, we have been in the trenches for a full year now. We’ve seen the impact COVID has had on our communities, particularly those who are older or living with comorbidities. We also know COVID-19 has hit Black and Latinx communities at disproportionate numbers compared to predominantly white communities. Distributing vaccines to these communities, and senior citizens, is a key part of our distribution strategy.
Community Equity & Seniors
In the last month, we’ve established relationships with three community groups dedicated to providing vaccine access to seniors and those in medically underserved communities. Each week, when doses come from the city, we earmark around 10 percent of those vaccines for this effort. We work with My Block, My City, My Hood to ensure vaccine access for majority-Black and Latinx communities hardest hit by COVID-19. Local Vaccine Angels also contribute, dedicating countless hours of time each day to secure vaccine appointments for seniors.
Online booking systems can be challenging for older adults or those who do not have internet access. We recognize this and rely on help from these groups who play an important role in vaccine equity for our community. The local teen who leads a Chicago Vaccine Angel group was recently featured on Good Morning America for his work.
Innovative Primary Care also plays a role in getting vaccines to eligible patients. We communicate with patients 65 and older to encourage them to schedule vaccine appointments, and can accommodate them during well visits at our clinic or at our vaccine center.
Chicago Public School Staff and Teachers
Classrooms across the country have been disrupted by COVID. Just this week, we hit the one-year mark since Chicago Public Schools had to pivot to remote learning due to the virus. Getting our teachers and school staff vaccinated to children can return to the classroom is critical. Innovative Express Care operates four vaccination sites for Chicago Public Schools. Each week when we get our vaccine allotment, 1,500 doses are earmarked for this school vaccination effort. Over the last few weeks, this has been 30 percent of our total vaccine allotment.
Innovative Express Care was one of the first sites to sign on with ZocDoc for vaccine scheduling. This effort was spearheaded by the City of Chicago as a way to offer a one-stop shop for locating vaccine appointments in the city. We open at least 100 appointments on ZocDoc weekly.
While the vast majority of our vaccines are administered at our clinics, we also have a strike team that heads out into the community to test or vaccinate eligible individuals. This team has traveled to factories, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, area schools and more.
Each week, we release as many appointments as possible for individuals to book vaccine appointments directly on our website. Since the amount of doses we get weekly from the City of Chicago varies, this amount does as well. When a shipment of vaccines arrives, we first have to remove the doses allocated for Chicago Public Schools. Next, we have to set aside the quantity needed for second doses. Then, we are able to begin allocating to the various efforts listed above. The remainder is put on our website for open booking.