© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Nursing Homes In McLean County Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations

Heritage Health sign
Emily Bollinger
Residents and staff at Heritage Health in Bloomington started receiving vaccinations on Tuesday.

Some nursing homes in McLean County have started doling out long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines, but many health care workers are refusing to participate.Ryan Taylor is assistant director of Green Tree Pharmacy. It handles pharmacy services for Heritage Health, a senior care operation that has close to 50 facilities in Illinois. Taylor said 90% of Heritage residents have taken the vaccine during the first rounds of clinics, but staff vaccination rates are only 65%.

Ryan Taylor
Credit Heritage Operations Group
Ryan Taylor, assistant director of Green Tree Pharmacy, said vaccine hesitancy is a challenge for health care personnel across the country.

“The residents, trying to convince them of the value of this vaccine, it has not been a hard sell at all. It’s been a tougher sell with staff,” Taylor explained. “I think that’s the norm across the country we are seeing in health care systems.”

Heritage Health in Bloomington started its vaccination clinic for skilled care residents on Tuesday, but the Heritage facility in Normal will have to wait two weeks to get its first round of vaccines.

Heritage Health of El Paso held its first vaccination clinic on Saturday. 

Westminster Village in Bloomington will begin vaccinating staff and residents on Wednesday. Those in independent living are not included in the priority group.

Westminster Chief Operating Officer Matt Riehle said all staff will be required to get the vaccine unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

“This is our duty to the residents that we serve,” Riehle said. “If this can help get us to a place of better visitation and protection and allowing people with that connection to family, friends and community, that is what we are called to do.”

Martin Health Center
Credit Westminster Village
Westminster Village will begin distributing COVID vaccines on Wednesday.

Riehle said he expects nearly full compliance. He said residents will be encouraged, but not required, to get the vaccine.

Taylor said Heritage won't require anyone to take the vaccine, but he expects some may ease their objections over time.

“I think there will be more that will jump on the vaccination bandwagon as they see the lack of adverse effects that they were initially fearful of,” he said.

Taylor said Heritage has spread out each clinic over three days to encourage first-day skeptics to reconsider.

Meanwhile, vaccinations continue for health care workers across McLean County. OSF Saint Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington reports it has given more than 1,100 vaccine doses, according to a spokesperson. Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Bloomington is approaching 1,000, said a spokesperson.

There's no subscription fee to listen or read our stories. Everyone can access this essential public service thanks to community support. Donate now, and help fund your public media.

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