Amid questions about suburban Chicago's coronavirus vaccination roll-out plan, Will County's health department is asking for patience from the community while health officials continue to vaccinate as many people as possible.
"I hear the governor say some counties are already going into 1B," said Will County Health Department spokesman Steve Brandy. "Most of them are downstate, southern, western that have less medical offices, less hospitals. It’s great that they are ready to go to 1B and they have taken care of their 1A. Not the case here in Will County.”
The department said it's working on getting vaccinations done for everyone eligible for Phase 1A, which includes front-line health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. Brandy said it could take weeks before the county moves into the next phase of the vaccination roll-out plan.
The process has raised questions and concerns for people like Marcia Altosino, 46, who cuts hair for a living in Plainfield and sees anywhere between 10 to 20 clients at her salon, The Butterfly Styling Studio.
“Not being able to get vaccinated is very serious to me,” said Altosino.
“I wear a face shield, I wear a mask, I’m fully in PPE,” she said. “My clients are worried as well.”
Rosemary Woods, who was born with cystic fibrosis and received a double lung transplant in April 2019, also worries about contracting the virus.
“You know COVID is a respiratory ailment,” Woods said. “Well I can’t even imagine getting that with my new lungs it will be probably a death penalty for me.”
Even though Woods falls into the high risk category, she said she’s not eligible to get the shot right now based on the recommended guidelines by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“It’s doesn’t seem like they’re taking people into high-risk consideration. I’m more high risk than a healthy 65-year-old that gets the shot before me,” she said. “I’m not denying them the shot, that’s not my point at all. I think they have to have a plan for people that are high risk.”
Will County is looking for more partners to help administer the vaccine. The latest numbers provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health show 20,634 doses of the vaccine have been administered to 6,027 people in Will County. Front-line essential workers and people 65 years and over are eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1B.
As for Woods, she was informed by the Will County Health Department she will have to wait until Phase 1C to get vaccinated. In Phase 1C, vaccinations will be open to people 16 to 64 years old with high risk medical conditions. Woods doesn’t think that’s right.
“We need the shot. We need the vaccine before healthy people,” she said. “I’m not trying to put healthy people down, not at all. I’m just saying they need to start to figure out what they can do with us and try to help us because we are following all the rules.”
If you live in Will County and want to get vaccinated, you can complete a survey through the Will County Health Department’s website. Brandy said you will not receive a confirmation email, but the department will notify you when it’s your turn to get the shot and that could take weeks or months. More than 60,000 people have registered to get vaccinated in Will County.