In Iroquois County

Two local entities are working together to get the COVID-19 vaccines distributed.

The Iroquois County Public Health Department and Iroquois Memorial Hospital are working together on this matter, according to information from the health department.

The distribution is being done according to the state Mass Vaccination Plan, said ICPHD Administrator Dee Ann Schippert.

“Iroquois County Public Health Department (ICPHD) was included in the first rollout of COVID-19 vaccine that went to 50 counties in Illinois,” she said in an email.

“To date, ICPHD has obtained two deliveries of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and one shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately 840 Iroquois County individuals have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Of the 840 individuals, approximately 240 have received both their first and second doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, scheduled 21 days apart. It is estimated that they will achieve immunity within two weeks of receiving the second dose. 600 individuals have received their first dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“These Iroquois County residents will receive their second dose within 28 days. Each vaccine has very specific storage temperatures, dosage amounts, number of vaccines per vial and time frames between doses. “It requires a tremendous amount of time to schedule individuals, track their specific vaccine details and assure that they receive their second dose at the appropriate time frame, as individuals must receive vaccine from the same manufacturer for both doses. In other words, if you receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the first dose, you also need to receive Pfizer vaccine for the second dose” said Schippert.

Schippert said Eric Ceci, ICPHD Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Iroquois County EMA was key in obtaining these vaccines for Iroquois County residents and has devoted countless hours to complete appropriate documents, track individuals in specific phase groups, acquire contact information on each individual, and schedule them for vaccine administration.

“It’s not a simple process by any means but Mr. Ceci, along with numerous ICPHD staff, has been working diligently to assure that Iroquois County residents included in phase 1a were vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am grateful for his dedication and diligence to the health and safety of our community; just as I am extremely proud of the ICPHD staff for their continual efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 through disease investigation, thorough contact tracing and implementation of appropriate mitigation efforts within our jurisdiction. The ICPHD staff is working long hours, 7 days a week to protect our community and prevent further spread of illness, all while serving the public with our established programs and services.”

“ICPHD has worked closely with our community partners during this unprecedented time. Iroquois Memorial Hospital has certainly been a tremendous asset to ICPHD and Iroquois County residents, she said.

“We owe more than a huge ‘Thank You’ to Iroquois Memorial Hospital (IMH). Very early on in the pandemic, IMH reached out to ICPHD and said “As always, we are here to help with anything you need”. Since that time, ICPHD and IMH have strengthened our partnership to even better serve our community. IMH offered to allow ICPHD not only their facilities and staff for administration of the vaccine, but have also collaborated on scheduling, standing orders, supplies and numerous other efforts to safely administer COVID-19 vaccine. “We have a monumental asset in IMH” stated Schippert. “I hope our community recognizes the value of our local hospital. Michelle Fairley, CNO/Vice President of Customer Care, along with Sherry Garrelts, Director of ER, Lori Yates, Environmental Services Manager, and Julie Giroux, Director of ACO, as well as numerous other IMH nurses and staff, have been instrumental in coordinating vaccine administration at IMH. The IMH pharmacy team has also been instrumental in our efforts. Allowing us to use their new Immediate Care Center on the ground floor of IMH has worked very well. Because the vaccine must be kept at specific temperatures, this has allowed for better control of vaccine integrity. Had we needed to set up a different point of distribution, such as a drive through clinic, we would have had to consider weather, traffic control, heat sources for staff who would be outside all day, parking for post-vaccination monitoring and so much more. Another significant factor for consideration is the possible need for emergent care following vaccination. We absolutely need to be ready in case someone were to have an allergic reaction. Individuals must be monitored for a minimum of 15 after each dose. Having the point of distribution at IMH allows immediate access to the Emergency Room, should it be needed. Partnering with IMH has also allowed ICPHD staff to continue on with our current COVID-19 mitigation efforts. We are a small health department and our staff is already stretched thin with additional duties, so the offer from IMH to assist has been a true blessing. ICPHD commends IMH for not only stepping up to the plate during this time but for their continual commitment to our community.

According to information from the health department, the first supply of COVID-19 vaccine receiving Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began being distributed in the U.S. on December 14, 2020. During the initial period, referred to as Phase 1a, supplies of the vaccine are limited, and therefore allocated to health care personnel and long-term care (LTC) residents and staff. As more vaccine becomes available additional populations will be eligible to receive it. The next phase is 1b.

1b is for people aged 75 years and older and frontline essential workers. Frontline essential workers are listed as those essential for the functioning of society, such as firefighters (including volunteer), law enforcement officers, corrections officers, for and agriculture workers, postal service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, daycare workers and the education sector, including teachers and support staff.

As the supply of vaccine increases, the program will moved to Phase 1c, which is people who are 16-59 years of age with comorbid conditions, people 65 to 75 years, other essential workers. Phase 2 will be the rest of the population as recommendations are provided. Health officials say that eventually, everyone who wishes to have the COVID-19 vaccine will have an opportunity to receive it.

According to information provided, as ICPHD moves through the phases set by the State of Illinois and vaccine become available to members of the general public ICPHD will communicate availability, along with where and how to receive the vaccine, via traditional and social media outlets as well as on the ICPHD website: http://www.co.iroquois.il.us/health-department/

For more information about the state vaccination plan visit: https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccination-plan.

“It is important to remember that while we work to make the vaccine available to all members of our community the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is wearing masks, social distancing, proper hand washing and monitoring yourself for symptoms,” reads the press release.

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