Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

If you are a healthcare employee, work in a hospital or work or live in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home you will likely receive the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).  It is unclear if residents of independent living centers are included in the highest priority group. Click here for list of population groups in the highest priority phase, 1a.

Frontline essential workers and individuals 75 years and older are included in phase 1b and might be vaccinated by the end of February, said IDPH. Essential workers include fire fighters, police officers, corrections offices, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, teachers, educational support staff, and daycare workers. About 6,000 Evanston residents are 75 years and older. 

Populations included in Phase 1c include other essential workers (logistics and transportation workers, food service employees, etc.), persons 65-74 years of age, and individuals 16-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions. Phase 2 includes all other individuals over the age of 16. At this time, children under the age of 16 will be among the last groups to be vaccinated.  No vaccines have been approved for children under the age of 16. 

There is currently no estimated time frame for when vaccinations will begin for population groups in phases 1c and 2. The vaccination timetable for various phases ultimately depends on the number of doses manufactured and allocated to Illinois.

According to IDPH, phase 1a includes an estimated 850,000 people in Illinois; phase 1b includes an estimated 3.8 million people and phase 1c, an estimated 3.5 million people.  Phase 2, everyone over the age of 16, numbers 1.7 million.  

The Evanston Department of Health and Human services is responsible for developing and implementing the vaccination plan for essential workers in Evanston including police officers, firefighters, teachers, and residents. Vaccines for essential workers will be scheduled by their workplace employer, with vaccines provided by the Health Department.

Over 6,000 NorthShore University HealthSystem workers received their first Pfizer vaccine shot the week before Christmas.  These workers will receive a second shot starting Jan. 7. An additional 3,700 workers will receive the Moderna vaccine beginning Jan. 11. 

NorthShore reports that the vaccine program “has gone very well thus far,” and only a few individuals reported very minor reactions after receiving the vaccine.   

Vaccination of Evanston Fire Department first responders began on Dec. 31. Evanston Fire Department workers are cross-trained in emergency services and are certified paramedics, explained Chief Brian Scott. He stated that the vaccine is not mandatory, and 65 out of a total of 107 responders chose to receive the first dose of the vaccine.  

According to Evanston Police Department Commander Brian Henry, roughly 200 police officers, detectives, supervisors and other department employees will receive the vaccine within the next two weeks.

Vaccination of long-term care facility residents in Evanston will begin this week.  Westminster Place, the Evanston campus of Presbyterian Homes, is scheduled to begin vaccination of skilled nursing home and memory care residents and staff on Wednesday, said Bob Werdan, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Presbyterian Homes.  

“We will also begin vaccination of assisted living residents and staff, if additional doses are available,” he said. Westminster Place has about 120 skilled nursing and memory care residents, 65 assisted living residents and 100 employees campus wide. The federal government has contracted with pharmacies to provide and administer the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities. Presbyterian Homes is working with Walgreens. 

No timeline is currently available for vaccination of teachers and staff members of Evanston schools.  “Evanston Township High School will coordinate efforts with the City of Evanston and follow guidance of the Evanston Public Health Department,” said Takumi Iseda, Director of Communications at ETHS. Meg Krulee, District 65 Educators’ Council President, stated that she has not heard any information regarding the District’s plans for vaccinating teachers.

The Pfizer vaccine, the first to be reviewed by the FDA and granted Emergency Use Authorization, requires ultra-cold storage and two doses given three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in standard freezers and requires two doses given four weeks apart for full effectiveness.

A list of Phase 1a eligible personnel is available here