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

McLean County Begins 1B Vaccinations; Opens COVID Call Center

pharmacist holding a vaccine
OSF HealthCare/McLean County Health Department
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OSF pharmacist Ryan Wolf prepares a COVID-19 vaccine.

McLean County will start COVID vaccinations next week for those in Phase 1b that includes essential workers and people 65 and older. That’s one week ahead of the state of Illinois’ vaccination timeline.
The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) has signup registration on its website.

MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight cautioned vaccine supplies remain limited and vaccinations will continue for those in Phase 1a that includes long-term care facility residents and frontline health care workers.

“We’re encouraging people to just be patient right now,” McKnight said. “Our vaccine supply is dependent on the state and their supply is dependent on the federal government supply. What we get each week varies.”

So far, McKnight said about 40% of the 15,000 McLean County residents in the 1a population (health care workers and long-term care facility residents) have been vaccinated.

She added the county has about 50,000 residents included in the 1b priority group. Essential workers include first responders, teachers, postal workers, grocery story workers, jail officers, public transit employees and others.

McKnight said the county expects to receive about 2,200 vaccine doses from the state next week.

“We’re trying to get all those doses in arms next week,” McKnight said.

She said the county is working with Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal to establish additional vaccination clinics. She said OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington plans to begin scheduling clinics for its Phase 1b patients at its primary care location at 1701 E. College Ave., Normal.

The health department offers email notification for future vaccination clinics.

McKnight has said it will take months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.

Call center opens

Also, McLean County has opened its COVID call center. McKnight said the county has hired additional staff who will work with the county’s contact tracers to answer COVID-related questions from the public.

“It’s all been in conjunction and collaboration with our contact tracing program. A lot of the questions as you can imagine are about isolation and quarantine and now we are getting into vaccinations,” McKnight said.

The call center will be available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is (309) 888-5600.

Nursing home deaths

The COVID death toll at Heritage Health of Normal has grown to 23, after eight more deaths were reported in the last week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

IDPH reported Friday 93 people have died of COVID-19 complications in long-term care facilities in McLean County since the start of the pandemic. Seventeen of those were reported to the state in the last week.

Heritage Health of Normal also reported 158 people there have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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