CHICAGO (CBS) — Howard Brown Health set out on a mass vaccination campaign today, with over 2,000 people across five different host locations across the city.
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reports it’s part of their effort to make vaccine distribution a fair one.
Vaccinations were by appointment only, but even in 10° temperatures, people waited in line for hours just for a chance of getting a vaccine in case there were any doses left over.
On Saturday, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen turned into a vaccination site.
It’s one of five locations across the South and West sides that Howard Brown Health is using to give vaccines to those who qualify; focusing on Chicago’s Black and Brown communities, who have seen the vaccine the least.
Maria Marquez, associate director at Howard Brown Health, said while giving vaccines in a museum might seem unusual, it was the location and the space to social distance that really won them over. But giving vaccinations at a place that honors Mexican history in Chicago also helps get a point across.
“I typically only work Monday through Friday, but I have been out here since 5 a.m. this morning, and this team of amazing people behind me from Howard Brown, this is not a typical workday for them,” Marquez said. “They signed up because they want to do something good for their community.”
The people with Howard Brown Health who are giving out the vaccine believe in that message so much, they’re putting in overtime to do it.
“I think it sends a message to the community this is an organization that’s here that represents them, that supports them,” Marquez said. “There’s a severe discrepancy between vaccination access in affluent areas versus less affluent areas.”
Any excess vaccine doses from people who didn’t show up to their appointment – for instance, due to the weather – won’t be wasted. They’ll be given to the people here in the order they lined up.
Howard Brown Health and the Museum of Mexican Art have also teamed together to provide free COVID testing three days a week at the museum — open to undocumented immigrants as well.
Howard Brown Health also offers vaccines to established patients and community members who are essential workers – such as teachers, first responders, corrections officers, food workers, manufacturing workers, postal workers, public transit workers, grocery store workers – or are age 65 or older. Appointments are available at Howard Brown Health clinics and can be scheduled online.