Could Alert System In Illinois?

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports people in Indiana can get an alert on the phone about where to get a COVID shot. Can Illinois get a similar system in place.

Video Transcript

- Thank you. 41% of Chicago's population now fully vaccinated. That's about 10% more than we were a month ago. Statewide, 50% of all adults fully vaccinated. CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey joining us now. Megan, you've been looking at another idea to increase in numbers that seems to be working just over the border in Indiana.

MEGAN HICKEY: Right, Brad. It's an alert to your phones similar to an AMBER Alert telling you about nearby COVID-19 vaccines. And Indiana's health department says it's been working for them. I got an alert to my phone a few weeks ago. Free J&J/Pfizer COVID vaccines nearby at Gary's Roosevelt High School. And CBS 2 investigators wanted to know does an alert like this actually work. Indiana's health department tells me yes.

DR. LINDSAY WEAVER: The process potentially saved hundreds of lives.

MEGAN HICKEY: A spokesperson told me they've utilized the public alert system 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.

- We are giving J&J vaccines today.

MEGAN HICKEY: These alerts have generated walk ins that more than doubled that day's prescheduled appointments.

DR. LINDSAY WEAVER: We also doubled our appointments for today. And we have reports this morning of steady walk in traffic.

MEGAN HICKEY: When I reached out to the Illinois Department of Public Health about the success, a spokesperson said IDPH does not have a notification system alerting people when vaccine clinics are in the area. But their are $10 million campaign to build confidence in the vaccine through trusted messengers include scheduling information available at vaccines.gov or through a phone number.

DR. KELLY MICHELSON: That might help some people out who just were having logistical challenges in terms of getting an appointment or getting themselves, figuring out how to fit it into their schedule.

MEGAN HICKEY: Dr. Kelly Michelson of Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine says local health departments need to be thoughtful and creative about helping residents around logistical challenges to getting vaccinated. And the success in Indiana is promising. And it's worth considering here. She also warned that an alert system like this should be used sparingly.

DR. KELLY MICHELSON: You know, you don't want people to develop alert fatigue.

MEGAN HICKEY: Now, Indiana's chief medical officer did note that they're using this alert system judiciously along with other types of messaging to get the word out about the vaccine. Brad.

- Illinois has no statewide system here set up, Megan. But could local health departments use this technology?

MEGAN HICKEY: Right, so IDPH.