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McLean County Addresses Confusion Over ‘Fully Vaccinated’

Patient wearing a mask receives a COVID vaccine
Emily Bollinger
More than 66,000 people are considered fully vaccinated in McLean County.
Updated: May 21, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
WGLT updated this story following a McLean County Health Department news conference.

McLean County health officials say they want to clear up apparent confusion over what it means to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

McLean County Health Department (MCHD) public affairs coordinator Marianne Manko stresses it takes two full weeks after your final vaccine dose to become fully vaccinated.

“We have people at our clinics who notice that the second that somebody got their second vaccine that they would walk out and take their mask off and say, ‘I’m fully vaccinated,’” she said.

Manko said there also may still be some confusion about the CDC's relaxed mask guidelines, noting some may be taking the relaxed protocols too far.

She said the unvaccinated still should mask up.

“We always recommend to people, use your common sense because we are going on the honor system here and there will always be, there have been and will still remain people who are unvaccinated who will go unmasked,” Manko said.

Manko said it's not feasible to check who has been vaccinated and who hasn't.

New cases

Meanwhile, McLean County announced 17 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Friday. That continues a trend of active cases declining, but hospitalizations have started to rise again.

MCHD announced one more McLean County residents was hospitalized with COVID-19 since Thursday to bring the county’s total to 26. That represents four straight days of increases.

Carle BroMenn Medical Center and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center report 85% of hospital beds, including intensive care beds are occupied. They have 21 COVID patients in their care.

McLean County COVID data
McLean County Health Department
The McLean County Health Department reported 17 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

The county reported 173 coronavirus cases for the week. That’s the lowest weekly total since March 12. The largest share of new cases comes in children — those 17 and under account for 26% of those new cases. More than half of the new cases (54%) are from people under age 30.

MCHD reported 211 people are isolating at home as 31 more people were released from quarantine overnight. County data indicates 17,762 people are considered recovered from COVID-19.

The county’s seven-day testing positivity rate dropped to 2.9% while the county’s cumulative positivity rate held at 5.3%, based on more than 343,300 tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.

The county’s COVID death roll remains 227.

COVID vaccines

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports nearly 141,900 COVID vaccines have been put in arms in McLean County. Nearly 39% of McLean County residents are fully vaccinated. That's just below the state’s vaccination rate of 39.2%

Manko said it appears young populations are helping to drive some of the higher vaccination rates in recent days. The 12-to-15 age group become eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine last week.

COVID breakthroughs

MCHD also reports the county has had five COVID breakthrough cases. That's when someone contracts the coronavirus after they are fully vaccinated.

Manko noted those rare cases come from among more than 66,000 McLean County residents who are fully vaccinated.

“COVID-19 vaccine is very effective. No (vaccine) is 100% effective, but a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus,” she said.

Manko said IDPH doesn't provide information on specific breakthrough cases because of privacy concerns. She said there are so few cases, they can be more easily identified.

The state reports than 224 people have been hospitalized with COVID in Illinois after getting the vaccine and 64 have died.

COVID call center

McLean County will soon make its COVID call center available to the general population to schedule vaccine appointments.

Manko said until now, the county has tried to keep the lines open for people 65 and older who were trying to schedule an appointment.

“We first opened that up in January because there were so many people in that 65-plus category in Phase 1A who didn’t have access to a computer, or weren’t very savvy at using the computer,” Manko said.

By now, most seniors have been vaccinated. According to IDPH, 87% of the county’s senior population has received at least one COVID vaccine dose.

The call center is staffed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff can assist with scheduling appointments and answering questions about COVID-19.

The call center number is (309) 888-5600.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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