By Anne Eickstadt


Forward Boone held a lengthy webinar on Thursday, Jan. 29 detailing the vaccine rollout plans for Boone County. As this is a great concern for many Boone County residents, here is part one of the information Amanda Mehl detailed for us.

“Forward Boone is an organization that was started in April, 2020 to combat the coronavirus to get information out there to Boone County residents and business owners to help them through the challenge that is COVID,” said Heather Wick, Growth Dimensions Business Enterprise Manager as she introduced Amanda Mehl

“We’ve been getting lots of questions from the media and the public. There is a monumental amount of work and energy that goes in behind the scenes.  We would like to ask you for your patience as we know that we will not be able to vaccinate everybody as quickly as we would like to be able to in a perfect world.  We will continue to update the community and be as transparent as possible but we will not always have the answers to your questions. We may have to send the question up to the state health or our national partners so there may be a delay in getting the information. We will do our best to get back to you with answers for your questions and concerns. We are working hard to get vaccine into the arms of the Boone County community members as quickly as possible.

“My staff and I share your concerns regarding the rollout of Phase 1B. Phase 1B is a huge target group. Many, many folks in there are prioritized and all of you that are part of 1B are a priority to us. We have to wait on vaccine shipments, get the clinic staged and scheduled, and bring on additional partners – all of which is happening behind the scenes – to allow us to get vaccine into the arms of Boone County residents and Boone County workers as quickly as possible.

“The state mass vaccination plan went live the week of the 14th of December, which was the first week that counties in the state of Illinois were receiving vaccines. There were 50 priority counties – priority based on death per capita. Boone County was not one of those priority counties so we received our first doses the second week of the state rollout. We are currently in Week 7 of the rollout. We have successfully completed the majority of Phase 1A which encompassed frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff.

“We had lots of help with Phase 1A because our long-term healthcare workers all chose to participate in the federal pharmacy partnership so Walgreens and CVS collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and those pharmacy workers came into our long-term healthcare facilities and began the process of administering the first doses of the COVID vaccine to the residents and the staff that work there. We have completed the first round of vaccinations for long-term health facilities and now we are in the waiting period between the first dose and the second dose. That is moving forward very quickly and we would like to congratulate our long-term facilities and thank our private pharmacy partners.

“Phase 1A was estimated to take four to six weeks statewide. We were very clearly and explicitly told that we would work as a state together and all counties would move forward from 1A into 1B together. That way if one county needed additional doses of vaccine for hospital workers or frontline health workers or long-term healthcare workers then all of the county health departments in the state would be ready to step up and pass along doses if needed to make sure that all of the frontline healthcare workers and everyone who qualified in 1A was as close to being vaccinated as possible before we moved into 1B.

“Some counties got closer to 1B sooner than others and we began, as we were vaccinating our first group of 1A recipients at the end of December, we began vigorously planning for what we knew would be a huge and heavy lift with our 1B population. Just to give you an idea, in Illinois, 490,000 is the estimated number of healthcare personnel and 360,000 is the estimated number of long-term care facility residents that needed to be vaccinated.

“The doses that were allocated to the health departments during the first four to six weeks, specifically designated for Group 1A, were based on an estimate of how many frontline healthcare workers and how many long-term residents and staff needed to be vaccinated in this jurisdiction.

“I would like to emphasize that during 1B, which we kicked off the week of Jan. 25, the estimated allocations that health departments and other providers that are coming online and going live to help with registrations and sign-ups and the ability to get vaccine into the arms of local residents will be based on population, not based on estimates of workers in any particular sectors. 1B is going to take a lot longer than four to six weeks. 1B is going to take months and I think that we will get through it more quickly if we have prompt community participation, which we are already starting to see here in Boone County, and we would like to thank everyone who is helping us with those efforts. We are also going to see 1B move more quickly as more companies are approved through the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorization for their respective vaccines to be on the United States market for distribution and for use. We do know that there are two other companies that are getting very close to being able to submit their paperwork to the FDA and have the Centers for Disease Control take a look at the materials, take a look at clinical trials, and approve those vaccines for emergency use.

“As soon as we have more information on what that looks like and if we will begin to receive doses from those companies as they come on the US market in the next couple weeks, couple months, I will push that information out through ForwardBoone as well.

“The other huge challenge that we have right now is 1B. In the state of Illinois, 1B encompasses 3.2 million individuals. It is broken down into two major categories – frontline essential workers and residents aged 65 and older. It is a very, very large group.

“To give you a local example, if we look at US Census data for individuals in Boone County that are 65 and older, it encompasses a little over 8500 individuals. That is a large group in and of itself, and then we have all the frontline essential workers who were not vaccinated during Phase 1A.

“Additional availability for clinics and expansion of our efforts is going to be very much driven by vaccine supply. The Health Dept. continues to receive shipments. They are small. For example, this week we received our allotment for Week 7 – which was 600 doses. We continue to receive allotments that are anywhere from 200 doses on the lower end up to 600 doses which is the most that we have ever received.

“I do think that in the next couple of weeks we will see the amount increase because it will be based on population and not based on the estimate of the number of workers in a particular sector that we are vaccinating. I also have the opportunity to request additional vaccine if I felt that Boone County’s Health Dept. response was prepared to handle larger shipments and I did put in that request to the Illinois Dept. of Public Health. I let them know that we have volunteer capabilities, that we have additional partners that would like to receive vaccine, and that we have enough plans in place that we would like to pull the trigger on, that if more vaccine can be shipped to Boone County that I, as the Public Health Administrator, is confidently and firmly requesting that we begin to receive more doses as quickly as possible.

“As for the way we are rolling out vaccines in Boone County, we are currently live with the state system EM Track. EM Track allows us to schedule appointments for the ‘invitation only’ clinics that we are currently offering. This includes our 1A folks. We have begun our second vaccinations for our 1A folks that were vaccinated four weeks ago. We are using EM Track and it has been wildly successful with these first small groups that we are working with. It allows for a link for those individuals to click on and schedule a time slot within a clinic that has been specifically designated for their target group.

Next week: Part 2

For complete webinar, visit the Forward Boone County Facebook page and check out their post Forward Forum: Vaccinating Manufacturer’s and ongoing Rollout Plans. The webinar concludes with a question and answer session.

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