Phase 1B Of Vaccination Might Not Begin For 2 More Months: WCHD

Abhinanda Datta

WILL COUNTY, IL — The Will County Health Department is asking the senior members of the community and their family members to be patient as the county continues its COVID-19 vaccinations.

To prepare for the distribution of the vaccine, WCHD asked residents last month to take a survey.

Questions contained in the survey were developed from limited and preliminary guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. County residents will be asked to provide personal information such as address, contact number and employment status.

Other questions in the survey pertain to assessing whether you are a health care/ front line worker, if you have pre-existing health conditions and if you live or work in a long-term care facility.

"Once an individual completes this survey and the county has their information, it is important to note that you may not hear back from the county for several weeks, or perhaps a couple of months," the health department said in a release Tuesday.

Most seniors will be taken care of in Phase 1B, and it is not known when that phase will begin in Will County. The county is currently in Phase 1A, in which hospital staff and other medical services and staff around the county; such as physicians, pharmacists, optometrists, speech therapists, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) workers, dentists and hygienists, and school nurses are being vaccinated.

While over 60,000 residents have responded to the survey, with around 4,000 more individuals using it daily, there was an item in the news early this month that caused some concern, WCHD said.

On Jan. 5, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that Phase 1B in the state will include individuals over age 65, taking Illinois a step ahead of numerous other states keeping Phase 1B at over 75.

However, WCHD is asking the senior community and their families to exercise patience after the survey is completed.

"Once there is a vaccination clinic that a resident qualifies for, they will be contacted with a chance to schedule the first of two required vaccination doses. It is important to emphasize that a resident will not be contacted the next day after survey completion, nor the next week, and perhaps not for a month or more, depending upon their situation," the survey said.

The survey is not a scheduling device, and scheduling will follow later when residents are contacted.

"Will County is a very large community, both in terms of population and geographic area," said WCHD Executive Director Sue Olenek. "We also have four hospitals, a large number of outpatient medical clinics and doctors’ offices, three federally qualified health centers, numerous long-term care, assisted living, and senior residential care sights, as well as other medical personnel such as dentists, nurses, physical therapists, etc. We have a very robust medical community, which is great for our residents."

But what that also means that it will be several weeks, probably close to two months, "before we move into Phase 1B," she said.

"Additionally, every county has different resources with which they are able to respond, so comparing where Will County is compared to other counties just doesn’t work," Olenek said.

Less than 1 percent of the county's population has been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

This article originally appeared on the Plainfield Patch