How the Lake County Health Department is still working to get people vaccinated

Despite declining interest in shots by adults, efforts continue to make them available

WAUKEGAN – Declining vaccine interest among adults is not deterring the Lake County Health Department from continuing its work to educate and encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

As the pandemic wanes, health authorities continue to encourage members of the public to get vaccinated.

Mark Pfister, executive director at the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, said officials have noted less community interest in the vaccine among adults.

Lake County is distributing an average of about 5,000 doses of the vaccines a week, which Pfister said satisfies the demand in the community.

He said officials are noting that a number of adults still are seeking the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

But Pfister said he believes the need for mass vaccination sites has run its course.

“We’re doing smaller venues, smaller mobile sites,” Pfister said. “We’re doing some smaller sites in churches and other locations. We’re bringing the vaccine to people’s neighborhoods to make it as convenient as possible.”

The health department started inoculating children ages 12 to 17 with Pfizer beginning May 13, when federal authorities issued emergency authorization to distribute the vaccine.

Pfister said the effort to vaccinate children ages 12 to 17 is filling the gap where there is a declining community interest among adults.

County efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated aren’t stagnant, despite the decreased interest noted among adults.

The health department has been allowing walk-ins. Health department authorities used to require appointments during the vaccine distribution process.

A partnership between the Lake County Health Department and Six Flags Great America is offering people a chance to win free tickets to the Gurnee-based amusement park in exchange for getting vaccinated.

Pfister said he hopes the initiative will encourage those eligible to get inoculated.

“Supplies are limited,” he said. “Once we go through the 8,500 tickets, we won’t have those.”

Pfister said the county’s vaccine supply is ample.

The health department last month resumed distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We’re still getting requests for the Johnson & Johnson, which is great,” Pfister said. “We’re making all three vaccines available to people.”

Health department officials shifted the distribution after the federal emergency pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, mostly because the vaccine supply was limited, officials said.

“We had just begun to receive and distribute supply before the pause, and our supply has continued to be very limited,” said Hannah Goering, the health department’s marketing and communications manager.

It remains unclear whether the community’s interest in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has wavered because of the federal emergency pause. Goering said the health department doesn’t have reports on the level of community interest.

Pfister said the county’s supply of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is similar in quantity.

Pfister said he believes the county’s vaccine distribution is going according to plan.

“We have not had any issues with any adverse events,” he said. “It’s going really well.”