CHICAGO (AP) — Health care workers in Chicago and Peoria received the first COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday during ceremonial events attended by top elected officials.

Five health care workers, including emergency room nurses, rolled up their sleeves and received shots at Loretto Hospital, which is located in Chicago's Austin neighborhood, a largely Black enclave that has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Applause followed each shot.

“You can see and feel the buzz of excitement because of this historic day,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “This is truly an exciting and important moment in our city’s history.”

Later in the morning, five other health care workers received shots at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Gov. J.B. Pritzker called it a beginning for the state.

Doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech began arriving this week. Health care workers will receive the first shots.

Pritzker has said he expects Illinois to receive about 109,000 doses initially within the next few weeks. Chicago officials expect about 20,000 to 25,000 of those in the city.

Lightfoot said that despite the hopeful news, widespread availability of a vaccine is still months away. She cited an uptick in cases following Thanksgiving.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 7,359 new COVID-19 cases and 117 deaths. Overall, the state has tallied more than 860,000 cases and 14,509 deaths.


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