Mike Simmons HeadshotCHICAGO — Two hundred residents, mostly from the Rogers Park and West Ridge neighborhoods, received COVID-19 vaccines today at events organized by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), in partnership with the Howard Brown Health Center, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, and ONE Northside. 

Simmons worked with the organizations to set up the events and reach out to residents of the 60626 and 60659 ZIP codes and adjacent communities after reports he requested from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed that infections still remain high and vaccination rates low in those communities, mirroring broader inequities in the health system.

“We’re talking about communities with immigrants, non-primary English speakers, and those living without reliable access to quality health care here in the 7th Senate District,” Simmons said. “Those circumstances present huge barriers to vaccine access, and if we’re to overcome them we have to proactively reach out and facilitate access. Many of our residents have language, transportation, and economic barriers to accessing the vaccine.”

The vaccine appointments were booked with the help of the Ethiopian Community Association, Howard Brown Health Center and ONE Northside, working in coordination with Simmons’ office. Many vaccine recipients are members of Chicago’s Ethiopian community, immigrants and asylees, and other low-income residents who face systemic barriers in accessing the vaccine. 

“Many of our low-income members, particularly people of color and people with lower access to technology, have struggled to access the vaccine. We are grateful to Sen. Simmons and Howard Brown for making this opportunity available to our community and to provide access to this life-saving vaccine to those left behind by our healthcare system,” said Jennifer Ritter, Executive Director of ONE Northside. “We will continue to organize for equitable outcomes from our healthcare system and build a society where everyone can thrive.”

Aklilu Adeye, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago said the Ethiopian community in particular faces challenges in navigating the process of getting vaccinated.

“Most of our refugee and immigrant community members have the double challenge of vaccine hesitancy as well as obtaining access to the vaccines,” Adeye said. “The availability of the vaccines we are receiving now provides access to families but also the opportunity to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services and explanations for any concerns they may have. We truly appreciate this effort and thankful for all parties who made this possible.”

Residents received shots this morning at The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago,

5800 N. Lincoln Ave., with more vaccinations administered this afternoon at Howard Brown Health Center, 6500 N. Clark St., in partnership with ONE Northside.

“We cannot overcome COVID-19 if we leave communities like these behind. The gross and totally unacceptable inequities in health care access and outcomes we already were seeing before the pandemic will only get worse if we aren’t proactive in getting our most vulnerable residents on the far north side access to this vaccine,” Simmons said.

Category: Press Releases

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