DeKalb County Health Department, Northwestern Medicine to start outreach for those eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

DeKALB – DeKalb County health officials and a local health care system announced they will start contacting eligible patients to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments starting this week.

Northwestern Medicine is identifying and contacting patients from high hardship zip codes who are older than age 65 to invite them to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments, according to a Monday news release from the DeKalb County Health Department. Vaccination opportunities will be extended to more patients based on criteria that prioritizes the most vulnerable and as vaccine supply becomes more readily available.

Established patients who have a MyNM account will receive an email inviting them to schedule, according to the news release. Those who do not have a MyNM account will be contacted by phone, text message or email.

The update comes after the state of Illinois announced Jan. 25 vaccine appointments will start to open up for those in the Phase 1b vaccination group, which includes several sectors of front-line essential workers and people 65 years old and older. DeKalb County began vaccinating people 75 years old and older with very limited appointments last week, according to the release.

Health officials anticipate it likely will take months to vaccinate all those in Phase 1b who choose to receive the vaccine with the current limited vaccine supply. The transition into Phase 1b will look different from county to county, as vaccination plans, available resources and populations vary.

Although a person may be eligible to receive the vaccine, however, the current demand is higher than the vaccine availability in the county and vaccine supply still is limited.

“The goal is to vaccinate all people who choose to receive the vaccine, but it will take time,” health officials wrote in the release.

Those who have registered to receive county health department COVID-19 vaccine alerts will only receive an email only when they are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with a registration link for specific clinic dates. Based on the available vaccine doses for the week, DCHD staff then use the notification system to determine the number of emails with the allotted doses for the week, based on age and registration date.

The county health department’s vaccine notification system is not set up to send out regular updates and or timelines for vaccine availability, health officials wrote in the release. The public can register on the health department’s website to receive weekly newsletter updates and to remain up to date on vaccine efforts.

The health department and Northwestern Medicine do not accept walk-in appointments for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at this time and registration is required for health department appointments.

For information on vaccines and vaccine availability and to sign up for DeKalb County COVID-19 vaccine availability alerts, visit health.dekalbcounty.org/about/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/ or email COVID19@dekalbcounty.org.

This article has been updated with new information after Northwestern Medicine officials confirmed Tuesday the initial vaccine appointments will be opened up to those 65 and older.