On Saturday, Gloria Williams accompanied nearly a dozen adult members of her family, including her 86-year-old mother, to Esperanza Health Center’s vaccination site to get their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The entire family resides in West Englewood and was vaccinated as part of the City of Chicago’s Protect Chicago Plus initiative.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day for such a long time,” said Williams, 55, who works as a resident services coordinator for Catholic Charities and runs the Voices of West Englewood alliance of area residents and businesses. “I was so lucky to get my own vaccine already but to see my family finally get it is the real blessing. We all live close by and my mother lives just down the street, but this is the first time we’ll all be together again. We’re doing this for each other.”
The Protect Chicago Plus initiative works to ensure that vaccination rates reflect the demographics of the city, and expand vaccine access and uptake in Black and Latinx communities that have been most affected by the pandemic. Data shows that communities where the program initially launched are seeing the highest increase in vaccination rates in the city. From February 6 to March 20, the percentage of Chicagoans who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine has doubled citywide but has more than tripled in Gage Park, South Lawndale, Belmont Cragin, Chicago Lawn, Back of the Yards, West Englewood and Archer Heights.
“We couldn’t be prouder to open our doors to Gloria and her family to get their COVID-19 vaccines with us,” said Dan Fulwiler, President & CEO of Esperanza Health Centers. “COVID has had a devastating impact on our South and Southwest side communities and it’s been incredibly uplifting to see patients and their families coming in to get their vaccines and leaving with a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Gloria’s example is such an inspiration for how families can support and protect each other during this pandemic.”
Esperanza opened its vaccine site at 61st and Western in early February to better reach communities that were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including West Englewood, Gage Park, and Chicago Lawn. It currently vaccinates more than 2,300 people a week at the site, mostly people of color like Gloria and her family – and has delivered more than 40,000 vaccinations in all.
Vaccinations are offered at no cost and by appointment only to people who live in these communities. I.D. and insurance are not required but an address will need to be provided on the day of the appointment.
To learn more about vaccine eligibility at this clinic, visit www.esperanzachicago.org/article/vaccinate-west-englewood. For the latest information on Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, please visit www.chicago.gov/covidvax.