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Jo Daviess County vaccination roll out still in infancy: Health department is preaching patience


GALENA–The vaccination landscape is changing rapidly for the Jo Daviess County Health Department as the vaccine rollout and allotment is updated and changed.

The department is asking for patience especially at a time when staff members are barraged with phone calls. Staff is also performing contact tracing and other tasks at the same time.

Registration was scheduled to go live at 11 a.m., Monday, Jan. 25 at jodaviess.org for appointments on Wednesday, Jan. 27, Thursday, Jan. 28 and Friday, Jan. 29. The plan is for sign up to take place every Monday at the same time, depending on the number of vaccine doses available for that week.

When sign up went live at 11:04 a.m., people were anxiously waiting. The computer screen told that story with most appointment times already booked. There were only a few green boxes–open slots–in a sea of red.

It was stressful as people clicked through, answering questions and waiting for an open time slot for the first week of the Phase 1B rollout. Some were ultimately successful and many others were not. After about 45 minutes, all the spots were reserved.

According to health department officials, an error with the Illinois Department of Public Health website over the weekend resulted in the link going live earlier than planned, which meant the health department had to cancel some appointments. Appointments are more limited than expected.

Patience is the main message Jo Daviess County Health Department Administrator Sandra, Schleicher is preaching as the vaccination rollout is still in its infancy.

“We are stressing the patience piece,” she said. “You might click on the link and there might not be appointments available. Everyone will get one, it just won’t all happen next week. It is coming, I promise.”

The health department is anticipating 8,000 people in the county are included in the 1B vaccine rollout.

“There are questions popping up that we didn’t think about or know about,” Schleicher added. “There may be even more than 8,000 people.”

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The department is only receiving 200 doses this week and doesn’t know about the vaccine allotment until the Tuesday prior.

“We’ve never come up with a good way to meet demand,” said Schleicher. “We are going to open it up for first come, first serve. People can register for two time slots at a time. I think demand will exceed what we have for next week.”

For those who have called, Schleicher and her staff are emphasizing patience. Schleicher said appointments will close when the allocated vaccine doses for that week are reserved.

“Be patient and hopefully we will have more next week,” said Schleicher.

The other piece complicating things involves planning for the second dose. This limits the number of vaccines available for first-time distribution.

Schleicher has said the health department will be collaborating with Midwest Medical Center and Medical Associates to provide clinics to those eligible who live or work in Jo Daviess County.

“(COVID) is all that we are doing right now,” said Schleicher.

Schleicher has also learned the state anticipates distribution at pharmacies in the next few weeks. No other details are available, but she is hopeful this will ease some of the burden on the health department.

Schleicher has also heard about the potential of National Guard members visiting the county to perform mass vaccination clinics.

One of the greatest concerns involves residents who don’t have internet access. Schleicher is hopeful neighbors and relatives will help those in need, but she is also planning to reach out to libraries and the Senior Resource Center for their assistance

“Anybody will be able to access the website,” said Schleicher. “If you want to register for somebody, please do. We need everyone to help their neighbors.”