coronavirus illinois

COVID Vaccination Site At Joliet West High School Aims to Ramp Up Administration of Shots

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A local fire department in Will County is ramping up efforts to vaccinate seniors, as the Joliet Fire Department will vaccinate senior citizens at a mass vaccination site set up at Joliet West High School.

Even with the new option, some residents say they still have not been able to get an appointment for the shot.

“I don’t know what the process is. It just seems discombobulated,” said Mokena resident Donna Muehlbacher.

Muehlbacher and her fiancé got COVID two weeks before Thanksgiving. She survived, but the virus took a toll on her fiancé, who died after being hospitalized. Muehlbacher is now worried about her 84-year-old mother.

“My anxiety is at an all-time high,” said Muehlbacher. “I’m worried I’m going to lose somebody else.”

Muehlbacher is still waiting to get vaccinated, but said she was finally able to get an appointment for her mother at Lewis University.

“I’m just concerned about supply and demand and whether or not she’s going to be able to get the second one,” she said.

She, like many others filled out a survey on the Will County Health Department’s website and have been waiting for weeks now to hear back.

“I spent 15 hours this week just doing nothing, but calling, being on hold, applying for vaccines online for him,” said Peotone resident Melora Bales.

Bales is trying to get an appointment for her 78-year-old dad, who has advanced kidney disease.

“In the past two years he’s undergone six heart procedures including getting a pace maker,” said Bales. “The poor guy has diabetes and he has to go three times a week for dialysis.”

But some good news came Wednesday afternoon for Bales’s family. She got an email from the Will County Health Department to book his appointment.

“If there’s something I’m taking away from this experience how really inaccessible it is for people in his age group that need help with all this,” she said.

A vaccination site has been set up at the Joliet West High School Field House by the Joliet Fire Department. For the past week or so they have been vaccinating teachers in the area.

“Our goal was to get them done as fast as possible so we can move to the 65 and older,” said deputy chief Jeff Carey. “We originally were only going to have 900 doses, but we ended up doing a little over 2,000.”

Carey said they originally thought it was going to take three weeks to vaccinate teachers assigned to them, but because they were able to double the doses right away this allowed them to vaccinate 1,400 people on Wednesday.  

“We stopped their scheduling last night, and we have over 3,000 extra spots that opened up this morning to the 65 and older community," he said.

Carey said they will vaccinate seniors at Joliet West High School on Thursday and it will be by appointments only.

“We’re going to start next week with a 1,000 a day and then we’re hoping to go up to 2,000 a day,” he said.

There’s 61,000 seniors eligible to get the vaccine in Will County. Carey said it’s going to take several weeks to vaccinate the 65 and older group depending on the number of doses they get from the federal government.

“If we could get another one of those sites up and running and there’s been other fire departments interested in doing that the more of these pods we could get going the faster we could move through,” he explained.

The Will County Health Department is asking for patience from the community. The county health department is working with community partners to set up more clinics and is in the process of launching a new call center to help with appointments and other issues.

Click here to complete the COVID-19 Vaccination Registration survey in Will County.

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