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'It's A Step In The Right Direction': More Blacks, Latinx Communities Getting COVID Vaccine

CHICAGO (CBS)  -- On Friday, the city of Chicago announced that efforts to make vaccine distribution a fair one among Chicago's most vulnerable is improving.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra has been tracking the data.

Chicago's top doc says that 50% of the vaccine doses given last week were given to Black and Latino Chicagoans. Health care workers who are keeping a close eye on vaccine equity said the announcement is a step in the right direction.

But the job isn't over.

"What we've seen in this neighborhood is it's been one of the hardest hit in the state by COVID-19," said Dan Fulwiller, CEO of Esperanza Health Centers.

On the edge of Gage Park and West Englewood, hope is on the horizon.

"To be able to bring the vaccine here is life changing and lifesaving for a lot of people," Fulwiller said. "It is hard for people to get around and especially because we are trying to vaccinate the most vulnerable residents. We do have a lot of walking patients and patients that take public transit as well."

For Vanessa Lopez, access is everything.

"I don't think a bunch of our community gets it because it's a lot of work," Lopez said. She was among the 250 Latino Chicagoans to roll up her sleeve Friday at Esperanza's newest vaccination site.

The once abandoned building now plays a vital role in getting the vaccine into the arms of the city's most vulnerable.

The racial demographics in Chicago are as such that it's almost an even split between the city's Black, white and Hispanic residents. Yet when looking at the vaccination data, it started as anything but.

Initially, through January 24, only 32% of the first vaccine doses were going to Black and Latino Chicagoans. Three weeks later, the numbers shifted: 37% to Chicago's Black and Latino residents. Now, the city said that number for last week is up to half.

"I think it's a step in the right direction, but I don't think there's room to celebrate too much yet." Fulwiler said. "The reality is that people of color constitute more than two-thirds of the city of Chicago. I will be happy when the vaccination rate is higher among people of color than it is among white people, since they're the ones who have been hardest hit by the disease."

Esperanza opened their second mass vaccination site on Monday as part of the city's Protect Chicago Plus program. They said that of the 250 people who had appointments, the majority were Latino.

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