IDPH: 40% of Will County residents are fully vaccinated for COVID-19

The Will County Health Department is planning community vaccination events in the coming weeks to get to more shots in arms

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported this past week that 40% of Will County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The milestone comes as the Will County Health Department is shifting its strategy away from running a handful of mass vaccination sites which have inoculated thousands of residents, toward smaller, pop-up clinics.

Sue Olenek, the executive director of the Will County Health Department, told the Will County Board’s Public Health & Safety Committee on Wednesday the daily vaccinations have decreased “dramatically.”

At the peak in mid-April, about 7,900 shots were being given on a daily basis in Will County. As of Wednesday, that average had dropped to below 2,300 shots per day, according to IDPH data.

“You can see that the need, the want, has waned quite a bit,” Olenek said.

In light of that decline in demand, the health department aims to wind down its larger clinics in Joliet, Wilmington and Monee over the next several weeks.

Olenek said her department has been focused on planning clinics at several schools in the county since children as young as 12 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. She added the department is also planning other clinics at local events and places of worship throughout the county.

The health department is also expanding outreach efforts to residents who have yet to be vaccinated. It’s planning multiple listening sessions to “explore COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and access among those disproportionately impacted.”

Olenek said the health department will use the input it receives at these sessions to better develop strategies about how to provide vaccines for more residents.

“Maybe they want it at their church,” Olenek said. “Maybe they want it available outside the grocery store on a Saturday. I don’t know, but we’re listening and we want to continue to make it available to everyone that wants it.”

Vinita Voss, the department’s new vaccine equity manager, will run the virtual sessions. Residents can register online for one on Friday, June 11 at noon.

For more information on where to find vaccines, go to 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.