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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Nursing Homes ‘Eager’ For COVID Vaccine Arrival in McLean Co.

Heroes sign outside Luther Oaks entrance
Emily Bollinger
Luther Oaks in Bloomington has had 36 coronavirus cases and one death since the start of the pandemic.

Long-term care facilities in McLean County hope to ring in the new year with the new COVID-19 vaccine.Doug Rutter , executive director of the Luther Oaks senior living community in Bloomington, said he's waiting to hear from Walgreens about when the vaccine will be available, after the first 50 Illinois counties in line get their doses next week.

Doug Rutter portrait
Credit Luther Oaks
Doug Rutter, executive director of the Luther Oaks senior living community, said they hope to have the COVID vaccine on site in the next few weeks.

“We know there are some dates that have been scheduled for sister facilities in our organization the first week in January and then a couple of weeks following, so we have an expectation it could be in the next two to three weeks we will hear that as well,” Rutter said.

McLean County was not included in the first vaccine distribution based on Illinois Department of Public Health criteria that prescribed the vaccine first go to the 50 counties with the highest COVID death rates.

Rutter said staff and residents are eager to restore a sense of normalcy in the senior living community. 

The facility has banned all but essential personnel for much of the pandemic--as all nursing homes in Illinois have been required to do under Gov. JB Pritzker's executive order.

“We did some outreach to our residents and family members. They are all very optimistic about the vaccine, are eager and ready to take it and we are, too,” he said.

Rutter said Luther Oaks won't require everyone get vaccinated, but the company will "highly encourage" it.

The long-term care facility has had 36 coronavirus cases and one death. Most of the COVID cases have been among staff.

McLean County Health Department Administrator Jessica McKnight said the timeline for when the county will receive the vaccines is still unclear, but long-term care facility residents and staff are among the highest priority populations.

“COVID-19 vaccine supply will increase substantially in early 2021, allowing greater distribution to the community,” McKnight said. “Recommendations for groups to focus on will broaden as vaccine becomes available, depending on characteristics of each vaccine, vaccine supply, and disease epidemiology. 

Last week, McLean County received an unexpected shipment of vaccine that were leftover from another county. Those were used to inoculate local health care workers.

Half of the county's 86 COVID-related deaths are tied to long-term care facilities.

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