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Carroll County Has The Lowest Vax Rates In Northern Illinois; Rural Schools Offer Vaccine Clinics To Help

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Monica Burkholder sits in her office just a few feet from where students and community members are receiving their second COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The clinic is in the gymnasium of Eastland Jr./Sr. High School, where she’s the principal. The school is in Carroll County, which lags behind other northern Illinois counties in vaccination rates.

“We're not trying to tell people that you should or shouldn't get it. But I do think that we should make resources available for people if they choose to do it,” she said.

But she says the Delta variant has cast a shadow over the new school year -- especially with outbreaks hitting rural Illinois schools. The virus has led places like Eastland to partner with health departments to offer the vaccine, especially in small towns where schools can be community hubs for health care.

“It's always in the back of our minds. I mean, anyone who said differently would be kidding,” she said. “Every single administrator when you talk about any sort of activity you're like, ‘Oh, can the kids go here? Well, let me think about that for a little bit.’”

Many school districts offered clinics over the summer. Eastland held drive-through clinics as well, but they’re one of few hosting clinics with the school year underway.

Burkholder says the county supplied 50 doses at the last school clinic and didn’t go through them all. But they had families come out from across the community.

Carroll County has the lowest percentage of people fully vaccinated in the region -- one of just a few under 40%. That’s still much higher than some downstate counties. It’s also at the bottom of northern Illinois when it comes to vaccinating 12-17 years olds at only 16%.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.