Rogers Park Residents Share COVID-19 Vaccine Experiences

Howard Brown Health on North Clark Street is one of a few places in Rogers Park where eligible people can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The night after John Reo Bowden received the second does of the Pfizer vaccine he said he experienced weird dreams, muscle soreness and other symptoms that can be expected after the shots.

However, Bowden, a nurse, said he was happy his body was responding to the vaccine because the discomfort he felt was small compared to the experience of many patients infected with COVID-19.

Bowden is just one of the 2,157 people who have completed their vaccine series in Rogers Park, according to the city of Chicago’s website.

Those who have gotten the vaccine may have experienced side effects, including headaches, chills and fever, among other things, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Side effects indicate the body is building protection against the virus. 

With Chicago in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout, frontline essential workers, people 65 years and older and those employed in a non-healthcare residential setting are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Frontline essential workers include those who work in grocery stores, schools, public transit and manufacturing, among other things. Non-healthcare residential settings comprise of homeless shelters and correctional centers. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the two currently administered to those eligible, according to Illinois Municipal League (IML) — an organization that represents cities and villages in Illinois. 

Right now, only frontline essential workers, residents 65 and older and employees in non-healthcare residential settings are eligible to receive the vaccine in Illinois.
Zack Miller | The Phoenix

Both vaccines need to be administered twice, according to IML. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is administered three weeks after the first, while the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is given four weeks after the first.

Loyola hasn’t announced whether the university will administer vaccines to students in the future, The Phoenix reported. 

Christine Wachter, a communications associate at a school, said she was vaccinated at a Walmart pharmacy last week. Wachter said she has received one dose of the Moderna vaccine and is due for the second one in a few weeks. The 42-year-old said getting the appointment was difficult for her since vaccine supply is low. 

“If you’re not sitting in front of a computer day and night refreshing the website, then it’s next to impossible to find an open slot,” Wachter said. “They go so fast.”    

Illinois doesn’t have enough doses to vaccinate every eligible person, according to Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike

“We have more people eligible than we have doses,” Ezike said. “There aren’t necessarily enough vaccination appointments for every single person.” 

Wachter said she’s grateful she was able to find an open slot but also feels for the elderly, teachers and other frontline workers who are unable to find available appointments. 

Occupational therapy student Lily Calvert said she was given two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at Rush University Medical Center, where she attends school, because she interacts with patients. 

The Rogers Park resident said she scheduled her vaccination appointment on the Rush University app. After she received her second dose, she said she came down with a fever, but her fever dropped after she took an aspirin. 

Since her vaccination, Calvert said she feels more comfortable using public transportation. 

“I take the bus to school and I feel more comfortable doing that now,” Calvert said. “I’m still seeing my pod of people that I see and of course I still wear my mask everywhere I go.”  

High school teacher Jorge Sanchez, who received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Rush University Medical Center, said his anxiety over COVID-19 has reduced since his vaccination.

The 43-year-old Rogers Park resident said the vaccination process was simple, but finding an available appointment was hard. Sanchez also said he thinks people with underlying medical conditions — who are at a higher-risk of COVID-19 complications — should’ve been included in the phase 1B group.

Many healthcare workers, long-term care and other residential healthcare workers were vaccinated in Phase 1A, which began Dec. 15. Chicago is expected to enter Phase 1C March 29, which will allow people who have underlying medical conditions to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

During Phase 2, which is expected to begin at the end of May, the general public will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Eligible Chicago residents can receive vaccines from healthcare providers, pharmacies, vaccination sites and some employers, according to 49th Ward’s COVID-19 resources.

Seniors 65 and older and frontline essential workers can schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments at Howard Brown Health, Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Public Health. Zocdoc, a vaccine appointment scheduler, can be used to check for vaccine availabilities at Point of Distribution Sites and Rush University Medical Center. 

People who are 65 years and older and those who belong in group 1A can apply to be on a COVID-19 vaccination waitlist at Swedish Covenant. Heartland Health Center, which doesn’t currently have any available appointments, is asking people interested in the vaccine to take an online survey so they can contact them when they increase vaccine supply.

To receive updates on COVID-19 vaccination, those interested can download the Chi COVID Coach app.

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