- The Chicago Department of Public Health has launched a website and a mobile device application encouraging residents to pre-register to get for a future COVID-19 vaccine.
- Chicago’s Mayor said the electronic database will be used to prepare plans for mass vaccination of all residents after a COVID-19 vaccine is licensed by the FDA for use in the U.S.
- The registration data obtained through the new mobile app is also expected to be used by public health officials for tracing contacts of those suspected of being infected with COVID-19.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has developed a website and an application known as the “Chi COVID Coach “ app where Chicagoans can now pre-register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine once it is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the U.S.1
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the “Chi COVID Coach” mobile app was developed by Google and MTX in collaboration with the CDPH to help communicate with Chicagoans who have either tested positive for the coronavirus or may be experiencing symptoms.1 The application uses Google Cloud’s technology to provide residents with real-time information.
Pre-Registration for Future Mass Vaccination in Chicago
The CDPH website states that the main purpose of the “Chi COVID Coach” app is to coach COVID-19 patients on symptoms, provide testing information, announce the availability of future antibody testing information and allow pre-registration for when a vaccine becomes available.2
The website states, “Looking even further ahead, registering with Chi COVID Coach will ensure CDPH has your individual information as we plan for Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign–which likely will not happen until 2021, once a vaccine is available.”
CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady said officials are building their plans with the intention to vaccinate the whole city of Chicago.3 According to a press release from Mayor Lori Elaine Lightfoot’s office, “Though a vaccine may be many months away, CDPH is already taking steps to prepare for mass vaccination. Because of this, everyone is encouraged to sign up, whether they have symptoms or not.”4
Although Mayor Lightfoot and CDPH Commissioner Arwady said a COVID-19 vaccine is not expected until 2021, both said they are already mapping plans to vaccinate the whole city by purchasing syringes and equipment and choosing locations where the vaccine will be administered.1
Using Technology For “Contact Tracing” and Mapping Plans
Even though a COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to be licensed for emergency use until the end of this year with widespread use not expected until 2021, the goal of pre-registering Chicagoans and collecting personal medical information in an electronic database will make the data immediately available to public health officials once a licensed vaccine is distributed in the United States.5
Public health officials in Chicago are weighing technology options needed to link a person’s symptoms to COVID-19 test results, vaccination status and ultimately, contact tracing.5
Contact tracing involves electronically monitoring the movements of people, usually through smartphones carried by the majority of people, and tracing everyone that a person, who tests positive for the coronavirus, has been in contact with. Public health officials have said that this practice is viewed as a crucial step to safely re-open the Chicago economy.5
Mayor Lightfoot said that the city of Chicago is looking at adopting a mobile app technology being developed in Germany.1 She states, “The German government is working on an app that will automatically be able to do and facilitate contact tracing on the basis of proximity to somebody who is subsequently tested positive. The app will collect information about who you’ve been in contact with, then automatically send out an alert.”1
Chicago officials maintain that the electronic surveillance data is protected and will only be used by CDPH for public health purposes related to controlling the spread of COVID-19.5
1 Spielman F. Chicago creates app to pre-register for coronavirus vaccine. Chicago Sun Times Apr. 27, 2020.
2 Chicago Department of Public Health. COVIDCoach.
3 NBC Chicago. Officials Want to Vaccinate All of Chicago for Coronavirus When One Becomes Available. Apr. 27, 2020.
4 NYS on PAUSE Extended. New York
5 Office of the Mayor. Mayor Lightfoot Joins Chicago Department of Public Health to Launch Chi COVID Coach Mobile Application to Further Citywide Response to COVID-19. Chicago.gov Apr. 27, 2020.