CHICAGO (CBS) — It turns out some Chicago teachers were fortunate enough to get the COVID-19 vaccine early.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, a glitch at one Walgreens in the Edgewater neighborhood led to hundreds of last-minute doses becoming available.
With her vaccination card in hand, Chicago Public Schools teacher Lindsay McGowan received the first of two shots.
“I was here for about two hours waiting,” McGowan said.
She waited outside the Walgreens at 5625 N. Ridge Ave. after word came that the location had a few hundred vaccine doses to get rid of before 6 p.m. Monday.
“It was a word-of-mouth type thing,” McGowan said.
It turns out the freezer where the doses were being stored broke, so Walgreens was forced to move what it could to other locations. But they couldn’t stock everything up at other pharmacies, and that’s when they put the word out to those next in line.
And boy, did teachers show up.
“The line was zigzagging like a carnival ride inside throughout the aisles,” said Mike Vollinger, who tried to get the vaccine.
“And then it was out the door around to the alley,” McGowan said.
So many teachers showed up that Walgreens quickly reached the available doses – not to mention that regular customers were forced to wait outside because the store reached its capacity inside.
Vollinger, who teaches at Lincoln Park High School, rushed over the moment online classes wrapped up.
“I just needed my CPS ID to walk in and get it,” he said. “I was under the impression that we were still two weeks out, but hey, if I get an opportunity to get this thing, I’m going to get it.”
The broken freezer at this Walgreens allowed for the early COVID-19 vaccination. Walgreens said it did not want a single dose to go unused – and it didn’t.
But unfortunately, Vollinger wasn’t quick enough. He missed out on chance to get vaccinated early.
Yet he questions why CPS didn’t inform teachers themselves.
“They want to ensure the best outcome for their teachers, allegedly,” Vollinger said. “So where was the notification?”
COVID-19 vaccinations are officially under way for people in Phase 1B. That includes people over the age of 65 and frontline essential workers such as grocery store employees and transit workers.
The State of Illinois has also set up the first of what will be two dozen mass-vaccination sites.
Health officials warn with getting about 34,000 doses of vaccine each week, it will still take a while to get everyone vaccinated.
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