As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, Illinois is lagging behind most states. DeKalb County is in Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. That includes people 65 and older as well as frontline workers and educators.
Lisa Gonzalez, DeKalb County Public Health Administrator, says it’s been confusing for many over 65 years olds just to register so the health department can notify them of their vaccine appointment. That’s because each county’s process is different. And it’s hard to make sure they know who to contact.
“Based on census data, we think that 65 and older [population] is around 13,500 in DeKalb County. And just within that group, we have about 12,000 registered. So that's pretty good, I think,” said Gonzalez.
But being registered doesn’t mean they’ll be vaccinated soon.
“Our 'Number 1' challenge is definitely vaccine supply,” she said. “Over the last few weeks, we've been getting a consistent supply of 1200 doses per week. But before that, it was even fewer.”
She says in the early weeks of the rollout, it was more sporadic -- sometimes only 600 or 700 doses would come in.
Part of the county’s supply goes to hospitals to help them vaccinate patients over 65. Pharmacies are starting to vaccinate as well, but they get their doses from a different supply. So, Gonzalez says, the department is unable to track how much pharmacies receive.
People over 65 in long-term care or assisted living aren’t registering with the county -- they’re getting vaccines through the State’s Pharmacy Partnership Program.
The county health department is vaccinating at its office, which Gonzalez says is accessible for older residents, and at larger sites like Northern Illinois University’s convocation center. From Jan. 17-23, 978 vaccines had been administrated at the NIU convocation center, according to the latest meeting of the DeKalb County Board of Health.
Gonzalez says as the vaccine supply grows, they’ll rely more on mass vaccination sites like the convocation center. She says those locations have been efficient -- people are in and out within a half hour.
She also says the DeKalb County Health Department hasn’t wasted a single COVID-19 vaccine dose yet. Residents can register for the vaccine at the health department's website or call 815-758-6673.