To further expand opportunities for people to get vaccinated, the state of Illinois launched a new program that offers building workers and returning office staff a chance to get their shot at work.
“Having vaccine available where you work makes getting vaccinated very convenient,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Monday, May 10.
The governor praised local unions and businesses and building managers for working ” hand in hand” with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make the rollout of the initiative as easy as possible.
“It’s exciting to see traffic in commercial districts across Illinois begin to pick up after a long year apart – an achievement only possible because of the life-saving protection of vaccines and the consequent reduction of cases and hospital admissions. More vaccinations will mean more of a return to normal for everyone,” Pritzker said.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike added, “Getting vaccinated is a personal decision and my goal is to arm people with the facts, including the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, as they are making that decision. As a physician, I know and have seen the benefits of vaccination. In fact, nearly all doctors have already been vaccinated. I encourage people who may have questions or concerns about the vaccine to talk with their doctor.”
Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said the new program will help further the process of getting more residents back to work and get the vaccines into the arms of more people.
“Chicago was one of the first and only municipalities to prioritize employer-based vaccinations, which has significantly enhanced our vaccine accessibility and equity efforts,” said Lightfoot. “Thanks to this new initiative, people will be able to conveniently get this life-saving vaccine right in their workplace, furthering our efforts to create a safe return to work process for our residents in the economic heart of our city — regardless of their occupation.”
The effort launches with 10 sites in Chicago, Schaumburg and Rockford — including iconic buildings like the Merchandise Mart and Wrigley Building. The state is partnering with the Building Owners and Managers Association and local unions to encourage front desk staff, custodial workers, security, building engineers and other employees to sign up for an appointment in advance, and outreach will be conducted to neighboring buildings as well. The clinics offer two-dose vaccinations and will also take walk-ins.
Rina Shah, group vice president, Pharmacy Operations and Services, Walgreens, added, “Putting Walgreens pharmacists in Loop office buildings will make it even more convenient for those coming into work to get a vaccination with no appointment.”
Beginning in mid-May, the following buildings will be included in the first wave of the program:
- Merchandise Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago
• Harris Bank Building, 115 S. LaSalle St., Chicago
• 540 W. Madison St., Chicago
• Equitable Building, 401 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
• 150 N. Riverside Plaza, Chicago
• 311 South Wacker (Walgreens at 250 S Wacker Drive), Chicago
• Wrigley Building, 400-410 North Michigan Avenue (Walgreens at 410 N. Michigan Ave), Chicago
• 308 W. State St., Rockford
• 1111 S. Alpine Road, Rockford
• 1061 American Lane, Schaumburg
Dates and times will be promoted in advance, which have been strategically chosen around shift changes to allow as many workers to take advantage of this opportunity as possible.
Illinois building operators interested in hosting additional clinics are encouraged to contact IDPH directly or contact the Building Owners and Managers Association.
Illinois is also supporting vaccination clinics for community organizations across the state such as churches and other religious organizations, neighborhood associations, mutual aid groups, nonprofits, immigrant service providers, and the like. Interested community organizations can sign up to host a clinic at no cost to them and IDPH will provide the staff and supplies. The interest form for this program can be found at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccinationclinics.
To date, IDPH has completed 130 community vaccination clinics with more than 120 scheduled for the weeks ahead.
“Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do so that our lives can return to normal,” said SEIU Local 1 janitor Slawomira Chamiga, who cleans at 30 S. Wacker. “I urge every essential worker to protect themselves and their families with a COVID-19 vaccine.”
“SEIU Local 1 is working hard to connect members with the educational resources and vaccination opportunities so they can get protected from COVID-19,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff.
“With enhanced air quality and ventilation, advanced cleanliness procedures, and reconfigurations, our buildings have been prepared to welcome tenants back to the office for over a year,” said Farzin Parang, BOMA/Chicago executive director. “We are proud to contribute to the vaccination effort to ensure a safe return to downtown and help revitalize our economy.”
Michael P. Mulcrone, BOMA/Suburban Chicago executive director, added. “BOMA/Suburban Chicago’s members have been working tirelessly to keep our buildings open, clean, healthy, and safe. We look forward to welcoming you back.”