Feb. 12, 2021 – As the state prepares to expand current vaccination eligibility criteria to include those 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions, local public health officials say these residents likely will be weeks or even months away from getting a shot unless vaccine supplies increase significantly.
“Oak Park residents currently eligible for vaccination number in the thousands,” said Oak Park’s Interim Public Health Director Joseph T. Terry. “Further expanding the eligibility criteria will just create a bigger list, a reality every health department in the state and country is facing. The process still is at the mercy of the vaccine supply.”
Terry said the Village will have updated its pre-registration form
to capture information from those newly eligible in Phase 1b by the time the new state guidelines go into effect on Feb. 25.
Only those newly eligible residents should complete the pre-registration form once it is updated, he said. Residents 65 years old and older who have pre-registered with the Village will not need to update their information since they already are on the eligibility list.
Filling out the pre-registration form does not schedule a vaccination, according to Terry, but only collects information necessary to contact those eligible as specific vaccination opportunities arise.
Scheduling vaccination clinics has proven challenging as shipments of vaccine from the state to Oak Park and other local health departments have proven to be unpredictable from week-to-week, he said.
Status of vaccinations
The Oak Park Health Department plans to continue allocating vaccine to those who are eligible under the current Phase 1b criteria
, including individuals 65 years old and older, and essential workers like teachers, licensed daycare staff, grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, transit employees, mail carriers and delivery drivers.
Village vaccination efforts currently are focused on residents 80 years old and older, with plans to move from the oldest then down through the senior age category to 65 years old.
“We remain optimistic that supplies will grow or even a one-dose vaccine will eventually become available,” Terry said. “But until one or both of those factors become reality, vaccinating all Oak Parkers who need and want it will take some time. Everyone just has to remain patient, wear their masks and continue to practice safe social distancing.”
Vaccine allocations to date
More than 8,200 doses have been allocated in Oak Park through Feb. 5.
The Oak Park Health Department has directly vaccinated more than 1,300 eligible Phases 1a and 1b individuals who live and work here and allocated more than 6,600 first and second doses through health care partners including West Suburban Medical Center, Rush Oak Park Hospital, PCC Wellness Center, Jewel-Osco, Walgreen’s and CVS pharmacies.
Several hundred doses also have been distributed by the state through chain pharmacies to vaccinate residents and staff of five local long-term health facilities.
The Health Department also is vaccinating many of Oak Park's most vulnerable residents, including those who live in four local assisted and independent congregate living facilities not supported by the state and federal vaccination programs.
These congregate facilites house many lower income senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, and have been hotspots for local outbreaks of the highly-contagious virus.
Many homeless seniors served by Housing Forward
in Oak Park have been vaccinated by the Oak Park Health Department as well, according to Terry. Plans are to continue vaccinating seniors, while beginning to target educators and essential workers in the days and weeks ahead as supplies of vaccine distributed by the state allow.
Putting needles into arms is the easy part, according to Terry, but unless the supply of vaccine can be increased significantly, the rate of vaccinations will be slow and unpredictable.
For more information
Information about the Village's vaccine allocation plans is posted at www.oak-park.us/covid19vaccine
. This webpage also includes details about the multi-phased vaccination guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health that Oak Park is following.