Area counties are making headway on COVID-19 vaccinations, but some health departments say they need more vaccine and more help.
Douglas, Ford, Piatt and Vermilion counties are all in the midst of vaccinating those in the 1B tier of eligibility — adults 65 and older and essential frontline workers — but they’ve gotten hundreds, not thousands, of vaccine doses a week to work with.
The demand is high, and not a drop of the vaccine is being wasted, health officials said.
Douglas County has gotten just 300 vaccine doses a week, and next week’s allotment will be 300 doses again, according to department spokeswoman Summer Phillips.
Vermilion County has been hovering at about 900 doses a week, and those have been divided among the health department, Carle Health and OSF HealthCare vaccination efforts in that county, health department Administrator Doug Toole said.
Vermilion County has requested 2,700 doses for next week, Toole said, “and we’ll see how that goes.”
Ford County, which has teamed up with Gibson Area Hospital on vaccinations, has been getting just 200 doses a week, all Moderna, but will be taking a big leap forward next week.
Megan Reutter, community health educator with the Ford County Health Department, said the county will get about 1,000 Pfizer vaccine doses next week and is making appointments to use them all in four days.
Here’s a more detailed look at the vaccination effort in each of those counties:
Toole said Vermilion has been looking at venues to hold large weekly vaccination clinics, but they won’t get underway this month.
It’s not just having enough vaccine. It’s logistics, he said. There must be space for vaccinated people to sit spaced from one another to wait 15 minutes to make sure they haven’t had a reaction, and there must be EMT staffing to keep an eye on then.
Plans for the next three weeks include health department vaccination clinics at the Fischer Theatre in Danville on Feb. 11 and on the following two Thursdays, with all 600 appointments for each of those days already full, Toole said.
Carle Health is assisting with vaccinations in Vermilion County for those 65 and older at Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center and, beginning this week (Thursday), began offering vaccinations at Danville’s Village Mall in the former Hallmark store.
All those vaccinations are by appointment only. Carle patients can sign up through the MyCarle patient portal and others can call 902-6100.
OSF HealthCare is also vaccinating those 65 and older in Vermilion County at the rate of about 600 a week, and is contacting eligible patients.
The Douglas County Health Department is continuing vaccinations each Wednesday and Thursday at the Tuscola Community Building and Arcola Elementary School, with 150 first dose shots available on each day.
Second dose shots are being given only at the school, and that supply is over and above the 300 first dose supply the county has been getting, Phillips said.
Douglas County has about 5,000 people in the 1B tier, but is currently still working its way through vaccinating adults 65 and up and hasn’t been able to start on the eligible frontline workers yet, she said.
And while vaccinations have been done for Arthur and Arcola schools, Villa Grove and Tuscola schools are still waiting.
“We just dearly need more vaccine,” Phillips said.
One issue getting in the way is a lack of ultra-cold freezer capacity needed for the Pfizer vaccine, Phillips said.
But Douglas County also needs more nurse and support volunteers to expand vaccinations, she said.
A lot of the Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are helping, Phillips said, “and we need to give them a break too.”
While Ford County’s vaccinations are set to move forward by 1,000 next week, Reutter said the health department is constantly recruiting more volunteer help.
All vaccinations in this county are being done at Gibson Area Hospital, she said, and appointments are being made for both older adults and others in 1B.
“I anticipate us staying in 1B for quite awhile,” Reutter said.
The DeWitt Piatt Bi-County Health Department has been doing about 600 vaccinations a week in Piatt County, and will be scaling up to 750 next week and potentially 1,000 within a couple of weeks, said department Administrator David Remmert.
Mass vaccination clinics began this week for three days a week in Piatt County at the Monticello Community Building, he said.
Carle Health is lending staffing to help with vaccinations as needed in this county.
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