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Evanston, Skokie move forward with COVID-19 vaccination plans as thousands of doses already administered
Evanston Review

Monday, January 18, 2021
Chicago Tribune
by Genevieve Bookwalter

Evanston and Skokie health officials hope to finish their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations this week as they look toward expanding distribution to include high-risk residents.

When that will ultimately happen, though, depends on if the state provides the needed vaccine doses to finish inoculating paramedics and hospital health care workers, said Greg Olsen, public health manager for the city of Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department.

“Once we have the vaccine in hand, it’s been very smooth,” Olsen said.

However, local health officials don’t know in advance how much vaccine they will receive each week, which makes it difficult to estimate when, exactly, this phase will wrap up and the next phase of inoculations will begin.

Long-term care residents also are in the first group to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Olsen said, but that effort is being coordinated by the federal government with CVS and Walgreens, not local health departments.

Skokie and Evanston are among a small handful of Cook County towns that operate their own health departments outside of the county system.

In Skokie, Mike Charley, director of health and human services, said the village should soon open two vaccination clinics to finish immunizing health care providers, and move on to Skokie teachers and educators.

In vaccination lingo, group 1a includes the first people allowed to receive the vaccine. That group includes paramedics, health care hospital workers and long-term care facility residents, according to the city of Evanston. The next group, 1b, includes residents 65 and older and “non-health care front line essential workers,” like teachers, law enforcement and grocery store workers.

In Evanston, 4,125 doses were given to hospitals to administer to health care workers in group 1a, according to city data. About 70 doses were given to paramedics and first responders, and more than 800 doses were given to non-hospital health care workers.

A smattering of law enforcement officers and others in group 1b already have received the vaccine, as they are on a “stand by” list for doses left over from the day’s clinics that must be used before they go bad, Olsen said.

Due to limited supply, vaccines are primarily available through municipal health departments right now, not through patients’ medical providers, said Evanston Health Director Ike Ogbo at last week’s Evanston City Council Meeting.

As such, residents in Evanston are encouraged to sign up for the city’s vaccination interest list, which officials are using to help with planning and distribution efforts. So far, more than 25,000 people have signed up, Olsen said. More information is available on the city’s website.

The database will be used as a tool to let residents know when they’re eligible for a vaccine, and where to go to get it, Olsen said.

In Skokie, spokeswoman Ann Tennes said residents should sign up for SkokieNews, the village newsletter, for updates on when they can receive the vaccine.

gbookwalter@chicagotribune.com

CONTACT

Genevieve Bookwalter covers the people and happenings in and around Evanston. She joined the Tribune in 2014 after working as a reporter and editor for news outlets in Northern California. In her spare time you usually can find her hiking a trail somewhere.


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