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Phase 1B begins with demand high and supply low

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Monday was the beginning of the first day for the next step of COVID-19 vaccinations, Phase 1B. That means more people in our area can get a vaccine.

As a reminder, here's a list of who is included in Phase 1B:

  • 65 and older.
  • Educators
  • People in food and farming
  • Manufacturers
  • Corrections officers
  • Postal service workers
  • Public transportation workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • Shelters and day care staff

But doses of the vaccine are extremely limited, so it will take time to vaccinate everyone in the phase. 13 News spoke to public health administrators in counties across our area about how vaccinations for Phase 1B will work and how long it could take.

For a decade, Kyle Auman, Ogle County's Public Health Administrator, has been working in the field. He says this situation of vaccinating a large swath of people is exactly what he, and others, have prepared for.

Boone County's Public Health Administrator Amanda Mehl says volunteers are being trained and retired nurses and physicians have stepped up to pitch in.

"We have the structure in place and it's literally being expanded as we speak," Mehl explains.

But demand for vaccinations is high and supply is low. The state allocates vaccines to counties weekly based on population.

"This week we are slated to get maybe 300 doses," Cathy Ferguson-Allen, Lee County's Public Health Administrator, says.

Ferguson-Allen worries it'll take months to vaccinate Lee County at this pace. And while she's requested more doses, there's no guarantee Lee County will get those.

Ogle County has the same issue.

"It's ranged from 300, to last week was about 1,000 doses," Auman say. "It's hard to plan knowing we have to administer second doses."

And then there's Winnebago County, which includes the region's largest area of demand, that being Rockford.

"Our estimated shipment for this week is around 5,000 doses," Sandra Martell, Winnebago County's Public Health Administrator, says.

Martell has said in the past, Phase 1B includes two-thirds of Winnebago County.

And as you can see, dosage allotment is a big reason why vaccination plans differ county to county. So to narrow it down, here's a county by county breakdown:

  • Boone County — The health department is targeting specific groups, like first responders and those 65 and over, to vaccinate. Right now, there is no registration system, which Mehl says is because the health department doesn't want people registering and then waiting for months. However, there are weekly updates you can sign up for on the health department's website. Mehl also says to pay close attention to the Facebook page for additional details.
  • Lee County — You can register on the health department's website to get on a call list where you'll then be scheduled at a local clinic.
  • Ogle County — You can pre-register, but the health department is prioritizing schools and manufacturing companies for the vaccinations as well as other places where community spread is most likely. They'll also be focusing on those 65 and over.
  • Whiteside County — The plan there is for the health department to focus on first responders, while hospitals and clinics will take care of those 65 and over, since doctors already have relationships with their patients.
  • Winnebago County — You're prioritized on a case-by-case basis depending on your response to the county's survey questionnaire.

We reached out to Stephenson County, but did not hear back.

Another important thing of note, while you won't be able to walk into a Walgreens or CVS and get vaccinated currently, a few of these health administrators said they received memos about a vaccination process at select Walgreens' and CVS'. We're told that is a part of a new federal program, but right now, the details are limited.

But one thing that's for sure, and it's something all of our region has in common, health administrators say they expect it will take months before they can vaccinate everyone in Phase 1B. So even if you're on the list and fall into this category, be prepared to wait.

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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