Will County health officias urge patience on vaccine rollout

First phase of vaccination will take weeks, officials say

Will County health officials are asking residents, specifically older residents, for patience as the first stage of COVID-19 vaccinations distribution continues.

Last month, the Will County Health Department opened a survey on its website for residents to register if they intend to receive a vaccine. The survey would give the department relevant information on a resident’s age, pre-existing health conditions, occupation and location of residence so officials can better organize their vaccine distribution plan.

More than 60,000 residents have filled out the survey, according to a county health department news release.

With so much interest in getting vaccinated, the health department has urged patience as it may be several weeks before many residents are notified about when they can get vaccinated.

“Will County is a very large community, both in terms of population and geographic area,” said Sue Olenek, the executive director of the Will County Health Department, in the release.

She said the county has a “robust” medical community, the members of which are being vaccinated in the first stage of the state’s plan.

Olenek said that means it will be probably close to two months before the county can move on to vaccinating older residents who qualify for the next stage of the vaccination plan.

Less than 1% of Will County’s population has been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to newly released data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, though more shots have been given since then.

The county had received at least 29,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to county health department spokesman Steve Brandy.

Will County has a population of about 690,000.

In total, the state has received nearly 870,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and has administered a little over 350,000 doses through Tuesday, per the IDPH.

The state administers an average of about 24,000 vaccines per day.

The Will County Health Department survey is still online for residents at willcountyhealth.org.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.