As eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine widens to include more people in Illinois, frustration continues to build among those unable to find appointments -- and some say accessibility varies among counties.
"It seems like every time we attempt to try to make an appointment, we get redirected to a different number, to a different department," said Beth Lamore of New Lenox. "We’ve been told there are no vaccines available."
While Lamore, an educator, is fully vaccinated, her 85-year-old mother Ellie Perry is still waiting for her chance.
Lamore said she and her sister have spent hours online trying to help their mom with no luck, and she fears there will be more competition for appointments as additional people become vaccine eligible in Illinois.
"For the seniors not to be vaccinated at this point, and there’s talk about other age groups being vaccinated, that makes no sense to me," she said.
In Will County, the health department says its main priority is Phase 1B seniors, but from the start, Chicago-area county health departments have made it clear that vaccine supply is limited.
"It’s definitely below, as far as the allotments we’ve received of vaccine, below our expectations," said Will County Health Department spokesman Steve Brandy. "It’s been improving. We’re hoping for more improvements."
Will County says it will soon open two new community vaccination clinics.
When looking at the percentage of population fully vaccinated so far across the Chicago area, Will County is currently at 11.74 percent and Lake County is at 11.79 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. In Cook County, 14.17 percent are fully vaccinated, and in Chicago the percent is at 11.40.
"From a vaccinator capacity perspective we are in a great place and have excess capacity and the ability to scale up even further," said Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister. "The issue is vaccine supply is still extremely limited. We can't vaccinate if we don't have vaccine.”
In DuPage County, where 14.04 percent of residents are fully vaccinated according to IDPH, the health department echoed the need for vaccine to be available to provide appointment.
"Our weekly average for the past four weeks has been 16,415 first doses each week," said DuPage County Health Department spokeswoman Stephanie Calvillo. "This means we can only vaccinate this number of people each week across all of the provider sites in DuPage County. Some retail pharmacies are also receiving a supply of vaccine directly from the state or federal government."
Perry said she has an appointment set for April 3, but she worries that could change.
"We should be the first people to get vaccinated because of our age," she said, "and it didn’t happen and I’m pretty active. I get out every day."