As local vaccine demand drops, health department shifts gears

DeKalb County Health Department transitions vaccine model, National Guard ends deployment

Amid a drop in local COVID-19 vaccine demand, the DeKalb County Health Department will shift gears to a new vaccine distribution model, and announced this week the Illinois National Guard has ended its deployment.

During the past 10 weeks, the national guard and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Contractual Nurses aided the local health department’s mass vaccination efforts, which since March 17 has seen more than 34,612 vaccine shots administered, according to a news release from local health officials.

As of Sunday, May 30, there have been 79,823 doses of vaccine administered to local residents, and 34.96%, or 36,408 residents out of the 104,143 total countywide population are fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That includes 10,603 residents who are 65 or older, and 25,802 residents who are between 16 and 64. Local data has not yet been updated to reflect those younger than 16. That means about 80.5% of DeKalb County’s senior population is fully vaccinated, and about 36.15% of those between 16 and 64 are fully vaccinated.

Instead of mass vaccination clinics which have become the norm at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center, the health department will soon begin a Monday through Friday walk-in option at the health department building in DeKalb, along with mobile clinics.

“With the end of the deployment and considering the recent decline in demand at our mass vaccination clinics, the DeKalb County Health Department is announcing that it will transition from a mass vaccination clinic model to offering additional mobile event opportunities and begin offering vaccine clinics five days a week at the Health Department,” the announcement states.

Local health officials have recently observed a decline in vaccine demand, especially amid the opening up of eligible ages with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now available to teenagers as young as 12, citing the school-age population as the “only true demand” for local vaccine these days.

The last day of COVID-19 vaccines at the NIU Convocation Center will be Thursday, June 10, and all clinics after that date will not require any registration. Instead, clinics will be available as mobile opportunities throughout the county and offered at the DeKalb County Health Department, no appointment required.

Since Jan. 14, in collaboration with NIU, local health officials have provided 61 clinics and more than 44,642 vaccinations at the Convocation Center site, said Lisa Gonzalez, public health administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department.

“These mass clinics have been made possible through the tireless efforts of our dedicated Health Department staff, community volunteers and with support from the Illinois National Guard,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Now we are shifting our efforts to offer more convenience-based opportunities to reach those who are still interested in receiving the vaccine. These convenience-based opportunities will include offering walk-in clinics at our Health Department location and offering pop-up vaccine opportunities in the community through partnerships with neighborhood organizers, faith communities and local businesses.”

If you go

Residents who are due for their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines after June 10, are urged to walk-in for their second dose at the health department or with another COVID-19 vaccine provider. It’s important to check the walk-in clinic schedule so that people walk-in during the correct vaccine day of the week, so participants are asked to be vigilant about which vaccine is offered which days.

Beginning Tuesday, June 1, the Health Department will have walk-in clinics five days a week:

• Monday through Friday - Johnson & Johnson vaccine is offered (For those 18 and older)

• Tuesday and Thursday - Pfizer vaccine is offered (This is the only vaccine currently offered to those as young as 12. If you are under 18, you need to have a parent or guardian with you to receive the vaccine)

• Monday, Wednesday and Friday- Moderna vaccine is offered (For those 18 and older)

Walk-in clinics are between the hours of 8:30 and11:30 a.m. and between 1 and 3:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Health Department, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Rd.

Individuals who receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second dose is administered.

Final NIU Convocation mass vaccination site dates

The final dates for COVID-19 vaccinations at the NIU Convocation Center, located at 1525 W. Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, are as follows:

• Friday, May 28: 10:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m., Johnson & Johnson vaccine

• Tuesday, June 1: 9:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m., Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

• Thursday, June 3: 4:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

• Thursday, June 10: 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Many pharmacy and retail locations also have COVID-19 vaccines by appointment and walk-ins. These locations can be found at www.vaccines.gov.

The health department continues to coordinate local vaccination events across the county based on community need and demand. These events are posted on the health department’s Facebook, shared in the COVID-19 email newsletter, and promoted through local community outreach. Residents may also check with their healthcare provider to discuss any concerns about getting the vaccine.

Community members and agencies can email questions to COVID19@dekalbcounty.org. This email is not used to provide medical advice. If you have personal medical questions, please contact your healthcare provider. Community members can also sign up for the newsletter online by visiting the DCHD website.

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke is the editor of the Daily Chronicle, part of Shaw Media and DeKalb County's only daily newspaper devoted to local news, crime and courts, government, business, sports and community coverage. Kelsey also covers breaking news for Shaw Media Local News Network.