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Dec. 14, 2020 - Village officials are putting months of preparation into action now that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved.
The Oak Park Department of Public Health – one of only four state-certified municipal health departments in suburban Cook County – has been designated a COVID-19 vaccine provider and is receiving doses directly from the state.
Allocation of the vaccine will be determined by protocols outlined by state officials at Illinois Department of Public Health and federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Oak Park Interim Public Health Director Joseph Terry.
Initially, there will not be enough COVID-19 vaccine for everyone, health officials say. Certain groups such as healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities will receive the first allocations of vaccine.
“As more vaccine becomes available, additional priority groups such as first responders and individuals at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness likely will be designated by IDPH and CDC to receive the vaccine,” Terry said. “Eventually, the vaccine will be offered to all residents who want it as large quantities become available.”
The Village is working directly with Rush Oak Park Hospital and West Suburban Medical Center on vaccine distribution to their employees. The vaccination process for long-term care facilities in Oak Park is being managed directly by IDPH.
As more vaccine doses become available after the new year, the Village will announce plans for vaccinating priority groups and eventually all residents. The plans will include vaccination events hosted by the Oak Park Health Department, Terry said.
Health officials say that getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent contracting the virus. Getting vaccinated also may protect others around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
While receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory, health officials see the vaccine as a critical tool for ending the pandemic and strongly urge residents to become vaccinated when it becomes available.
According to Terry, health officials understand that some residents may be concerned about getting vaccinated.
“Safety is a top priority, and no steps are being skipped during the clinical trial process for COVID-19 vaccines,” Terry said, adding that safety checks are in progress and will continue as long as a vaccine is available.
“While COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures have remained in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is approved for use.” he said.
Terry added that while helping the local economy recover is a priority, mitigation measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing will continue to be essential for all residents to follow even after a vaccine becomes available.
For the latest information about COVID-19 in Oak Park, visit www.oak-park.us/covid19.