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COVID Vaccine Supply Remains Limited In McLean County

Woman receiving COVID-19 vaccine
Emily Bollinger
Diane Brent receives a COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic at Grossinger Motors Arena on Jan. 21, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccine doses continue to come in slower than McLean County health officials had hoped.
County Health Department administrator Jessica McKnight said Friday the county expects to get about 1,900 doses from the state next week. The county has about 50,000 people eligible to get the vaccine, and about 15% of that eligible population has received a dose.

“If the county is receiving between 1,500 and 2,000 vaccines doses a week, it’s going to take a long time. It’s not going to be a quick process,” McKnight said. “It just makes it difficult because we want to serve the public. We want to see our county get vaccinated.”

So far, the county has administered about 7,500 vaccines, said McKnight, adding a little over 50% of health care workers who were included in the Phase 1a priority group have been vaccinated.

Essential workers who are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 1b include a wide swath of the community -- everyone from police officers and firefighters to teachers, daycare workers and food processors. Those essential workers, along with people 65 and older, are struggling to get vaccine appointments due to the limited supply.

They are all waiting until health care workers and nursing home residents got the vaccine first.

McKnight said the county is following guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in determining its priority groups. She said it's important to show consistency.

“At this time, the counties of Illinois, we need to be united and vaccinating together, equality across our state,” she said, continuing to urge patience as COVID-19 vaccine supplies remain limited.

She said people who can't schedule an appointment online can callthe county’s COVID call center to schedule a vaccination when appointments are available. She said the health department wants to avoid people just showing up at a clinic.

“We have seen what has happened at some locations that have had that, where people have been camped out for days and still not gotten a vaccine, so we are trying to avoid that at all costs,” McKnight said.

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

Hours for the two weekly clinics are limited to 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Grossinger Motors Arena in downtown Bloomington.

McKnight said the county will consider expanding hours for its vaccination clinics once more vaccine become available.

According to the IDPH, 7,617 vaccines have been put into arms in McLean County so far, while 330 people have received both vaccine doses. That makes up .19% of the county’s population. Statewide 1.01% of the population is considered fully vaccinated.

County health officials have said they expect to trail other counties because those with higher COVID-19 death rates got their vaccines sooner.

Nursing home deaths

McLean County has surpassed 100 COVID deaths tied to long-term care facilities, according to IDPH data

The state reported 13 new deaths at those facilities in the last week, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 106. Heritage Health of Normal has had the highest death toll at 23. Westminster Village in Bloomington reported six additional deaths in the last week.

According to IDPH data, 752 local coronavirus cases stem from long-term care facilities.

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