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

McLean County Cancels Vaccine Clinic; 1B Expansion on Hold

Worker wearing mask at COVID vaccination clinic
Emily Bollinger
A worker takes registration at a COVID vaccination clinic at Grossinger Motors Arena.

About 900 McLean County residents who were set to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose on Friday will have to wait, while others hoping to become eligible for a first dose soon will likely have to wait for weeks.The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) said Friday’s clinic at Grossinger Motors Arena has been canceled as severe winter weather has stalled vaccine delivery across the much of the United States.

MCHD administrator Jessica McKnight said the county doesn’t have backup supplies since it is vaccinating people as quickly as possible.

“It’s been our mission, our goal to distribute all of the vaccines we are receiving each week so we don’t have any on hand,” McKnight said. “So if you don’t have any on hand, you unfortunately cannot give any vaccines.”

McKnight said people who scheduled appointments online will get an email notification to reschedule and those who signed up via phone will get a call from the health department’s COVID call center.

McKnight said the health department has four clinics scheduled for second doses next week, but it’s not clear if they will need to be rescheduled.

McKnight said the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has notified the county health department it will only get about 500 first doses next week. She said those vaccines have not yet arrived and MCHD doesn’t plan to schedule any first-dose clinics next week. She said those vaccines will be given to other community providers, including the hospitals and universities as well as some pharmacies and doctor’s offices.

1B expansion on hold

Meanwhile, McKnight said McLean County will not expand vaccination eligibility next week.

IDPH had recommended counties expand Phase 1B starting Feb. 25 to include people with underlying health conditions.

McKnight said the county doesn’t have enough vaccines available and likely won’t anytime soon.

“Our goal remains the same, to vaccinate as many people as quickly and safely as possible, but the limited supply of vaccine creates a challenge,” McKnight said.

She estimated the Phase 1B expansion would add another 40,000 McLean County residents to the eligibility list. The county has about 50,000 eligible now in Phases 1A and 1B.

McKnight said she wants to get at least one dose in 75% of those people before expanding eligibility. So far, about 35% have received first doses.

“Current estimates with us as a county only able to do about 4,000 doses a week it would take up about 8 to 10 weeks to get to that point,” said McKnight, who calculated the county can expand eligibility sooner, but that’s only if more vaccines become available.

Positivity rate rises

Meanwhile, McLean County’s coronavirus testing positivity rate rose to 3.2% Thursday, after dropping to its lowest mark since early July.

The county announced 51 new confirmed and probable cases on Thursday.

Eighteen McLean County residents are hospitalized with COVID-19--up from 14 on Wednesday. Twin City hospitals have 69% of intensive care beds are in use and 89% of all beds are occupied.

The number of people isolating at home increased slightly over the last 24 hours, to 230, while 13,908 people have completed their time in quarantine and are considered recovered.

The county’s COVID-19 death toll remains 165.

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