BLOOMINGTON — Limited shipments of vaccine mean the McLean County Health Department won't be expanding the pool of those eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1B come Feb. 25.
On Feb. 10, Gov. JB Pritzker said Illinois would followed updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opening up the vaccine to people with underlying health conditions.
Phase 1B initially included 3.2 million people in its category, including adults 65-years and older, as well as frontline essential workers such as first responders, public transit employees and grocery store workers.
Under the expansion, people 16-years and older are eligible under Phase 1B if they have comorbidities that put them at-risk for COVID-19. The full list includes diabetes, obesity, cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes, heart conditions, pregnancy, pulmonary disease, sickle cell disease or a weakened immune system from an organ transplant.
MCHD administrator Jessica McKnight said locally the expansion would make "an estimated 40,000-plus people" eligible for the vaccine.
"Our goal remains the same: To vaccinate as many people as quickly and safely as possible, but the limited supply of vaccine creates a challenge," she said. "...McLean County will begin scheduling appointments for those who need expanded Phase 1B eligibility only when we have made significant progress through Phase 1A and Phase 1B."
Before Phase 1B, the state made the very first doses of COVID vaccine available to health care workers and employees at long-term care facilities, representing roughly 850,000 people.
McLean County entered Phase 1B in mid-January.
Here's what you need to know:
Public health employees are running the vaccination clinics; two doses of the vaccine are required for a person to be considered "fully vaccinated."
Appointments are required to receive the vaccine; a link to make appointments is available via the McLean County Health Department's website.
MCHD and Carle BroMenn Medical Center aim to run around three vaccine clinics each week. People eligible under Phase 1A or Phase 1B will be able to make appointments each Thursday, available online via the health department's website or by calling MCHD's COVID-19 center at (309) 888-5600.
A follow-up appointment to receive the second dose of vaccine will be made during the first clinic visit.
Should the county begin to receive a large amount of vaccine from the state, the providers may add additional clinic dates or expand the clinic hours.
"We ask for your patience as we get residents vaccinated," MCHD administrator Jessica McKnight said. "To those not yet eligible for vaccines, please know, your turn is coming. Though we can't control how many vaccine doses we receive each week, we believe that working together with Carle BroMenn provides the infrastructure needed to get all the vaccine to residents quickly and efficiently once it arrives."
OSF Healthcare will also be administering the COVID-19 vaccine to patients already in that health care system. The process will be through appointments only and patients will receive an invitation from OSF that comes to either the MyChart app, email or phone.
Right now, OSF is prioritizing patients 65 years and older, as well as those with risk factors that make getting the coronavirus more dangerous.
More pharmacies have become eligible to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines at select locations. The new pharmacies include Meijer and Walmart, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.