COOK CO, IL —
Cook County has begun vaccinating workers at the county jail, making them among the first frontline essential workers in the Chicago area to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The jail has been a virus hot spot, with four jail guards and 10 detainees killed by the novel coronavirus. One study last summer found that one in six COVID-19 cases in Illinois could be traced back to the jail on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Health officials have warned that the jail’s current population, sitting at more than 5,000 detainees, makes social distancing a challenge. The arrival of the vaccine provides hope, but its success will require buy-in from jail workers and detainees alike.
Cook County Health began administering vaccinations to Cook County Department of Corrections staff at the jail on Wednesday. Cook County Sheriff spokesman Matt Walberg said 308 corrections officers got the vaccine on the first day.
At that pace, with the vaccine being administered six days a week, it would only take a couple weeks to give the 3,000 or so corrections staff at the Little Village facility the first round of vaccine shots. However, experts say it could be a challenge to convince the majority of workers and inmates to get the vaccine.
By: Patrick Smith