AMBER Alert For The COVID Shot?

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports the Hoosier State uses a phone prompt similar to an AMBER Alert to let people know where they can get vaccinated. Can it work in Illinois?

Video Transcript

- Good afternoon. On this Memorial Day, I'm Brad Edwards. The new attempt to get people vaccinated is catching a lot of attention. It's an alert sent to your phone similar to an AMBER Alert or tornado Warning designed to get stragglers to the closest clinic. CBS 2 Investigators Megan Hickey joins us live. Megan, Indiana South Health Department says it worked for them.

- Right, Brad. They've used these alerts near a vaccination site in Gary, Indiana. And afterwards, they saw a surge in walk-ins. So we wanted to know would this work in Illinois too.

A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Public Health told me they've utilized the public alert system with messages like these in areas around the state to notify residents about the availability of COVID vaccination clinics in their area.

In numerous cases, including the mass vaccination clinics in Gary and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These alerts have generated walk-ins that more than doubled the days prescheduled appointments.

- The process potentially saved hundreds of lives.

- About 50%.

- Doctor Kelly Michaelson of Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine says local health departments need to be thoughtful and creative about helping residents around logistical challenges to getting vaccinated.

- That might help some people out who just were having logistical challenges in terms of getting an appointment or getting them figuring out how to fit it into their schedule.

- She says the success in Indiana is promising. She also warned that an alert system like this should be used sparingly. When I reached out to the Illinois Department of Health about the success, a spokesperson said IPH does not have a notification system alerting people when vaccine clinics are in their area. But there $10 million campaign to build confidence in the vaccine through trusted messengers includes scheduling information available and vaccines or through a phone number.

Now Indiana's chief medical officer did note that they're using this system judiciously in addition to other types of messaging to get the word out about vaccinations now. How would this work in Illinois? We'll have more on it coming up at 6:00. Live in River North, Megan Hickey CBS 2 Investigator.