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Winnebago County leaders give first look at COVID-19 vaccine plan

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — For the first time, we're learning about what a COVID-19 vaccination plan might look like in Winnebago County.

Dr. Sandra Martell, the Public Administrator with the Winnebago County Health Department, says the county's plan needs to fall under the same guidelines of the state's plan.

Dr. Chris Schriever from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago is leading the planning of distributing of the vaccine in the county. Dr. Schriever says the vaccine will likely be a two-dose vaccine, meaning you need to get it twice, two months apart.

In terms of who can get the vaccine first, the county's plan looks similar to the state's in that frontline workers will be among the first to get it.

Leaders say the vaccine will be rolled out into phases.

Phase 1 will be frontline workers, such as healthcare workers and first responders. These workers will get the first dosages of the vaccine. Leaders say there are roughly 14,000 frontline workers in the county.

After that, high-risk areas will be given the vaccine next. Areas include long-term facilities, jails, shelters, group-homes.

Phase 2 includes the population who are at high-risk for the virus.

Experts say the vaccine will be distributed here in one setting, known as a POD (points of distribution). Distribution for phases 1 and 2 would be considered a "closed POD" location. Health experts say they hope this is ready by early spring in March or April.

Phase 3 would be the entire population and would be considered an "open POD" structure. Leaders say they're still working on where these locations would be set-up.

The vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca have shown to be over 90% effective against the virus. Despite that, Dr. Schriever says getting people to take the vaccine may be a problem. The doctor says a survey conducted in the county found the number one fear people have about a vaccine is safety.

"Every day that goes by we are collecting more and more safety data so I think by the time that is starts getting widespread use, we can feel fairly comfortable about where we are with the safety profile of the different vaccine," said Dr. Schriever.

Leaders say they're hoping to get the first dosages of the vaccine in mid-December, but that is still in flux.

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University.

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