CHICAGO—The Chicago Department of Public Health is ramping up hyperlocal vaccine outreach, including door-to-door canvassing, in a data-driven effort to continue pushing COVID-19 vaccine to the communities with the lowest vaccination rates. In partnership with community organizations, canvassing teams trained through the City’s online Vaccine Ambassador program are going door-to-door to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, starting with 13 targeted communities identified as having the lowest vaccination rates.
Canvassing teams will be assigned to visit every home in these 13 communities to discuss vaccine options, share information about vaccination locations nearby, and engage in conversations and answer questions about the vaccine. Data captured by the canvassing teams will be used to continue to schedule hyperlocal and pop-up vaccination events in areas of greatest need and demand, and identify those in need of at-home vaccination.
The City is already offering vaccines at dozens of pop-ups and special events throughout the city each week, including parks, beaches, farmers markets, churches, food pantries and more. A calendar of pop-ups and special events is on the City’s vaccine website
. New events are added weekly.
“Community by community, block by block, house by house, we will continue to talk with Chicagoans about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and let them know when and where they can get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for Chicagoans who have not yet been vaccinated to get the vaccine.”
The effort is part of Protect Chicago Plus, an initiative that initially targeted 15 high-need communities based on the City’s COVID vulnerability index to ensure that a significant part of the City’s initially limited vaccine supply went to these communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of Protect Chicago Plus, from early February through early May, the percentage of adults with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the 15 initial communities grew from six percent to nearly 50 percent – made possible in part by more than 124,000 doses allocated at Protect Chicago Plus temporary clinics and at special events. Notably, the percent of adults with at least one dose in Protect Chicago Plus communities of Archer Heights (64.4%), Belmont Cragin (61.7%), and Gage Park (62.3%) were all above the city rate (58.4%) when Protect Chicago Plus events ended.
Also, as a result of the City of Chicago’s equity strategy for vaccine distribution, the City has become a national leader in vaccine equity. In an analysis conducted by CDPH using publicly available data sources, CDPH found that Chicago leads all other major U.S. cities in Latinx and Black vaccine coverage.
The first 13 communities to be targeted for block-by-block canvassing are: Auburn Gresham, Austin, Chatham, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Hegewisch, Montclare, Riverdale, Roseland, South Deering, South Shore, West Englewood, and West Garfield Park.
Canvassers in these neighborhoods will be identified by Protect Chicago-branded vests, buttons, and masks—so residents can easily identify canvassing teams. Canvassers will not enter homes, but they will be able to sign people up for vaccine appointments, including in-home vaccination for qualifying individuals.
The canvassers include individuals from community-based organizations, the Chicago COVID Contact Tracing Corps, the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership, aldermanic offices and other community partners.
“The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership is proud that members of Chicago’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Corps are part of the initiative being announced today,” said Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. “The Corps was created for this very purpose, to be a trusted voice in Chicago’s hardest hit communities. Today’s initiative facilitates neighbors talking to neighbors and continues to weave the threads of equity and outreach together to fight this pandemic by increasing the numbers of us who are vaccinated in areas where the virus has done the most damage.”
Educational canvassing teams will also be strategically deployed in neighborhoods beyond these 13 prioritized communities throughout the summer with the goal of visiting households across the City to promote and facilitate vaccination.
"During the most difficult of times in spring 2020, Mayor Lightfoot had the foresight to attack the pandemic head on by carving out a table of health providers, city officials and most importantly community-based leaders working together to address the debilitating impact of COVID-19 on the most at-risk communities. The Racial Equity Rapid Response Team has been a model across the country for battling COVID in urban settings," said Carlos Nelson, Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation.
Chicagoans interested in learning more about becoming a Vaccine Ambassador or canvassing to increase vaccine uptake in their communities can visit https://pages.ccc.edu/apply/mxvaccine
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City recently announced the expansion of its in-home vaccination program, called Protect Chicago At Home. Anyone age 65 or older, or with a disability or medical condition is now eligible. Residents can call (312) 746-4835 to schedule an appointment for in-home vaccination.
All COVID-19 vaccines are offered at no cost to everyone, no insurance or ID required.