Local health officials are steadily moving ahead through Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccines, and beginning to lay the groundwork to move onto Phase 1B.
The first phase, which includes healthcare workers from doctors and nurses to COVID testing site staff and EMS technicians, is in full swing.
There is no estimate for when departments will be through with Phase 1A, but preparations already are underway for Phase 1B, in which those older than 65, first responders, school employees, food and agriculture industry employees, corrections officers, postal workers, public transit workers, grocery store employees, and staff members at shelters or adult daycares will be vaccinated.
Vaccines are not yet being administered to people in those groups, but they get information and can sign up now.
“[Phase] 1B is pretty broad, so we’re reaching out to certain organizations where we could do what’s called a closed pod, where we would go to their site,” Lee County Health Department administrator Cathy Ferguson said.
“We’re also going to be doing some community clinics. We’re still going to be doing them by appointment, because we still have certain allocations of vaccine we get. It’s not like we have an unlimited supply.”
Vaccination of those in long-term care facilities is underway; that process is being handled through a federal pharmacy program that uses CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens.
Walgreens is handling those vaccinations in Lee County, which seems fitting, since its founder, Charles Walgreen, grew up in Dixon.
Those by-appointment clinics are working well, and giving the health department some control over the limited supply, Ferguson said.
In Lee County, the health department went to work right away to vaccinate KSB Hospital’s team of healthcare workers, but now the focus has shifted to healthcare workers in other areas.
“A couple examples would be dentists and eye doctors, nurses at dialysis centers,” Ferguson said. “Healthcare workers that people don’t automatically think of, so that’s who we’ve been focusing on now.”
The Ogle County Health Department also still is in the throes of Phase 1A, also vaccinating health care workers in those other fields.
“It will take a few weeks to move through these staff,” the department said on its Facebook page. “When we get to a point we can start vaccinating high risk, elderly, other essential workers etc., there will be public messaging on social media, paper, radio, etc., advising how to get the vaccine for your group.
“We are making arrangements for that next phase with many leaders and administrators at local employers to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible in preparations for the next phase,” the post said.
People who fall into groups covered by 1A or 1B and have not set up a vaccination can contact their local health department.
To sign up:
In Whiteside County, people can call 815-626-2230. In Lee County, that would mean emailing email@example.com. In Ogle County, call 815-562-6976; in Carroll County, call 815-244-8855. All have websites and Facebook pages where updated information will be posted.
Through Wednesday night, 2,112 doses of the vaccine had been administered in Whiteside County, with 384 residents fully vaccinated. In Lee County, 1,183 doses have been given, with 181 people fully vaccinated. Ogle County has administered 1,736 doses and has 448 people fully vaccinated. Carroll County has had 381 doses and 38 people fully vaccinated.
Once vaccinations are through Phase 1B, Phase 1C will start, covering individuals with chronic health issues. After Phase 1C will come Phase 2, which likely will include the rest of the population.