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The City of Evanston has little to no insight into how many COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine doses Evanston will receive from week to week or when the City will receive the doses. This makes it difficult to give residents information about vaccination timelines and to organize and provide notice of vaccine clinics for eligible residents said Mayor Stephen Hagerty and Health Department Director Ike Ogbo during a question-and-answer session held on Jan. 22.
Mayor Hagerty explained that the lack of visibility can be traced back to the State of Illinois and to the Federal government. “We don’t know the quantities of the vaccines we will get week-to-week as a City and exactly when we will get them. This is determined by the State and IDPH [Illinois Department of Public Health]. The State does not know when they will get doses from the Federal government,” Mayor Hagerty said.
The City of Evanston received 900 doses last week and 1,400 doses two weeks ago. Mayor Hagerty believes that the number of doses the City receives will increase, but it will take time.
The State of Illinois’ model or approach for allocating vaccine doses is in flux, causing additional confusion and complexity. The initial distribution plan developed by IDPH last fall, charged city and county certified health departments with allocating and distributing the vaccine, with the exception of long-term care facilities.
This week IDPH allocated vaccines to Walgreens to administer to state residents and signaled that future doses may be allocated directly to hospitals, other pharmacy chains, physician offices, and health clinics. Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., is headquartered in Deerfield, Ill.
Circumventing Public Health departments in the vaccine allocation process makes it difficult for local governments to manage the vaccination process and communicate effectively with residents.
Director Ogbo and Mayor Hagerty stressed the need for a coordinated effort. “We and the state want to get needles into arms as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Hagerty. Using pharmacies and hospitals to administer the vaccine makes sense, “but what is lacking right now is tight coordination and communication between these groups,” he added.
Mayor Hagerty stressed that Evanston is not sitting on or stockpiling vaccines. “When we get our hands on the vaccines, we are setting up vaccine events to get into the arms of residents.”
The City of Evanston completed vaccinating groups in Phase 1a and is now vaccinating groups in Phase 1b. The Evanston Health Department held a clinic on Jan. 22 at the Levy Center to vaccinate residents age 85 years and older. Once this segment is vaccinated, the City will vaccinate residents ages 75 to 84, and then residents 65 to 74, said Director Ogbo.
More than 40,000 people have completed the Evanston vaccination contact form. This includes people who work in Evanston in addition to Evanston residents. Director Ogbo encouraged residents to complete the form for everyone in their family. The contact form can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/27LBXZK