The State of Illinois announced a coronavirus vaccination program for rural areas on Monday.
Starting this week, Illinois National Guard mobile operations will begin visiting rural communities with the capability to deliver upwards of 1,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine per day. The program will begin with events in Fayette and Shelby counties where a combined 2,600 doses can be administered before expanding to additional sites in Moultrie and Clay County later this week.
Addressing travel distances to providers is a key step in expanding access to healthcare in rural communities. This rural vaccination pilot program, which will run local vaccination clinics supported by local health departments as a one-stop shop, will result in people getting vaccinated quicker, without the logistics and time commitment associated with coordinating a second trip.
“While it’s been a long and difficult year, the fact that we now have three incredibly effective and protective vaccines is practically a scientific miracle – and it’s on us to get all three options out to the people of Illinois as quickly and widely as we can,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker in a press release. “Our state-supported mass vaccination sites are open to residents of every county, but the rural vaccination pilot program takes availability one step further by bringing the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine directly into regions that have historically had less easy access to healthcare.”
The mobile teams will be operated in partnership with local health departments, and appointments will be limited to county residents only.
|March 15||Fayette County Health Department||416 W. Edwards, Vandalia, IL||http://www.fayettehealthdept.org/COVID-19.html||1,000|
|March 17-18||Lake Shelbyville USACE Dam West Recreation Area||1989 IL-16, Shelbyville, IL||https://www.shelbyhealth.net/||1,600|
|March 20||Moultrie County||Location information to follow||https://www.moultriehealth.org/||800|
|March 22||Oil Belt Christian Service Camp, Clay County||555 Park Road, Flora, IL||https://www.healthdept.org/||700|
There are now more than 900 vaccination locations in Illinois open to the public the press release said. For those having difficulty navigating online services to make vaccination appointments, the Vaccine Appointment Call Center may be able to assist. The hotline is available seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to midnight at (833) 621-1284.
As the program launched, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 782 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19. That is the lowest number of new cases since the pandemic began last spring.