Retired doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are volunteering at Chicago area mass vaccination clinics are serving vital roles in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. William Johnston, who retired four years ago, is now administering vaccine doses at one of Kane County’s mass vaccination sites in suburban Batavia.
“I was an ER doctor for about fifteen years and then I finished my career as an occupational and industrial medicine doctor, so we were very familiar with vaccinations and public health initiatives,” Johnston said.
Cathy Schmitt is a former emergency room nurse who is volunteering at the Batavia site.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
“People sit down in these chairs and they’re very anxious, they’re very nervous,” Schmitt said. “(I like to ) calm them down a bit. Talk to them, calmly. Explain what you’re going to do.”
The Kane County Health Department recently opened its third mass vaccination site, and the department said it is seeing a need for more volunteers.
“It takes the village to get this all done and everyone has been coming in,” said Laura Barrett, Director of the Division of Disease Prevention. “We’ve been using nursing students, anywhere we can to help support this increased demand and to get these vaccines out as quickly as we can.”
People without medical backgrounds are also serving as volunteers at Chicago area mass vaccination clinics.
For more information about volunteering for the medical reserve corps in Kane County, more information can be found on the health department's website.
A Lake County Health Department spokesperson said more volunteers are appreciated. Potential volunteers can visit the department's website to sign up.
Different counties have different levels of volunteering needs, according to officials, and some county health departments said they are currently not seeking additional volunteers.
A spokesperson for Cook County Health said collaboration with multiple organizations has resulted in good staffing for sites in Cook County.