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As the State of Illinois Moves Towards Phase 5 Will County Encourages Residents Over 65 to Get Vaccinated
Anastasia Tuskey
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As the State of Illinois Moves Towards Phase 5 Will County Encourages Residents Over 65 to Get Vaccinated

The Will County Executive Office and the Will County Health Department today unveiled a new online search feature that makes it easier to find a vaccine in Will County while encouraging all residents over the age of 65 to get vaccinated as the State of Illinois announced it will advance to Phase 5 of Restore Illinois by April 12.

“In order for our county to keep moving forward, it is vital for residents over the age of 65 in Will County to get vaccinated and we are working to make it easier for them to find a vaccine location through our new online search,” said County Executive Jennifer Bertino Tarrant, “Governor Pritzker’s announcement to move the state into Phase 5 is dependent on several parameters, including increasing vaccines to our senior population and we are working to make vaccines as accessible as possible.”

According to the state’s announcement today, the phased approach or “Bridge” to Phase 5 allows for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations. As with all mitigations, the administration has implemented to combat the virus to date, the Bridge Phase is based on science and was developed by health experts.

To advance into the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70 percent first dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and over, maintain a 20 percent or lower ICU bed availability rate and hold steady on COVID-19 and COVID-like illness hospital admissions, mortality rate, and case rate over a 28-day monitoring period. In addition, the state must reach a 50 percent vaccination rate for residents age 16 and over and meet the same metrics and rates required to enter the transition phase, over an additional 28-day period.

“Will County is currently in Phase 1b, as we have worked to vaccinate as many residents over 65 whose mortality rate is much higher when contracting COVID-19 than younger populations,” said Sue Olenek, executive director of the health department. “Our new vaccine search capability brings information on all vaccine sites into one place for our residents to view and easily register to get vaccinated.”

To date, 28,349 Will County residents over age 65 have been fully vaccinated. This represents approximately 37 percent of all vaccines distributed in Will County. The total fully vaccinated in Will County is 74,888 or 10.82 percent of the county as of March 18th.

“In order to get where we need to be to fully re-open our county, it is critical more residents are vaccinated,” said Bertino Tarrant. “We are encouraged that the Governor announced more vaccines will be on their way. The only thing stopping us from increasing our vaccines is the availability of them to our Health Department.”

The State of Illinois reported that since coming into office two months ago, the Biden Administration has taken the weekly vaccine distribution to states from 8.6 million, when it came into office, to more than 16 million this week. Back in December, the first shipment that came into Illinois was about 109,000 doses. This week, including the federal government’s allocations for pharmacy partners, community health centers, the United Center and the City of Chicago, more than 800,000 doses were delivered to Illinois. Based on current projections, the state expects that number to surpass one million doses a week in April.

In addition to the new online search, the county previously announced the opening of two new Community Vaccine Clinics in Wilmington on March 23and one in Monee on March 30. These clinics are by appointment only.

To register and for complete details on these clinics and the more than 50 vaccine sites in Will County, visit www.willcountyhealth.org.

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