As Oak Park marks a year since COVID-19 upended daily life, Village Public Health officials remain focused on a local response, while still providing essential municipal services.
The Village’s most pressing priority is to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to eligible residents as quickly and equitably as possible, a task complicated by an unpredictable supply of vaccine that often varies from one week to the next.
The Oak Park Department of Public Health is leading the vaccination effort with support from across the entire municipal government organization and a small army of citizen volunteers.
From hosting drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics to managing mass vaccination clinics for local educators and other essential workers, the Village has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to managing these logistically challenging, resource-demanding efforts.
For many municipal employees, the clinics mean double duty since the streets still need to be plowed, emergency calls answered and a myriad of other everyday essential services delivered.
The Health Department also has taken the vaccine to Oak Park’s most vulnerable populations, including residents of assisted and independent living facilities that house many lower income and minority senior citizens.
These congregate facilities not only have been hotspots for outbreaks of the highly-contagious virus, but have accounted for the vast majority of local deaths.
Many of Oak Park’s homeless seniors also have been vaccinated by working with regional partner Housing Forward to reach this segment of our community.
In addition to directly vaccinating individuals who live and work here, the Oak Park Health Department also has broadened the availability of vaccination services by allocating thousands of vaccine doses through local health care partners including hospitals, pharmacies and health care providers.
But more needs to be done, a fact local public health officials are quick to acknowledge.
Officials say they remain optimistic that vaccine supplies will grow in the weeks and months ahead. But until then, vaccinating all Oak Parkers who need and want it will take time and residents are asked to remain patient.
For the latest information about Oak Park’s vaccination efforts, visit www.oak-park.us/vaccine. For all other information related to the Village’s COVID-19 response, visit www.oak-park.us/covid19.