CHICAGO — Faith communities across Chicago united in prayer Saturday while spreading the message about COVID-19 vaccines.

At JLM Abundant Life Center on the city’s West Side, religious leaders and city leaders alike attended an event to pray for the lives lost to the virus while encouraging residents to get vaccinated as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Protect Chicago 77 program.

Several churches across the city held the event on Saturday, with Mayor Lightfoot saying vaccination is urgent with Thanksgiving on the way.

“In this city, if you are African American, over the age of 50 and unvaccinated, your possibility of dying from COVID-19-illness is 50 times that of any other demographic,” Lightfoot said.

The city launched the “I’ll Hold Your Hand Vaccine Ambassador” program, encouraging faith communities to organize members to support people who are uncertain.

“We will go door-to-door to sit with you in prayer and understand your concerns and address them, because this circumstance could not be more dire,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot anticipates the city will reach its 77 percent vaccination goal by the end of 2021, but said there’s still more work to do.

As of this week, more than 75 percent of Chicagoans ages 12 and up have had at least one dose. 69 percent are fully vaccinated. Now, children as young as 5 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.