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COVID-19 Vaccine with a Local Focus: My Talk with DuPage County Health Officials On the Coronavirus Vaccine

There is SO MUCH misinformation out there right now about the new vaccines. It really is quite scary. That’s why I decided to dial up my friends at the DuPage County Health Department and get the low down on the two coronavirus vaccines from a local perspective.

Is it safe? Should we be concerned with how quickly it was produced and tested? Who gets it first? When will the general public have it available?

Karen Ayala (Exec. Director) and Andrea Gargani (Dir. of Public Health Services) were kind enough to spend about half an hour with me discussing all of these important question.

Thank you to them, and here’s hoping this vaccine is the beginning of the end of this pandemic!

In the meantime, here is the latest information from the DCHD about the COVID-19 vaccine:

The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) is preparing to receive and distribute the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in DuPage County next week. At this time, the amount of vaccine in the first shipment to DuPage is expected to be about 13,000 doses. The amount of vaccine in future shipments is unknown but weekly shipments are expected.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be meeting this week to review Pfizer’s application for Emergency Use Authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine. If the vaccine is approved by the FDA, DCHD expects to distribute the vaccine based on a multi-phased approach, with the first shipments designated for health care personnel and long-term care facility residents and staff.

DCHD anticipates it may take several months to reach the estimated 58,000 health care personnel and long-term care facility residents in the county. The Health Department will focus on the health care personnel, while the long-term care facilities are provided with vaccinations through a Federal program, called the Pharmacy Partnership Program. This time frame is contingent upon how much vaccine will be available through the weekly shipments of vaccine from the state.

Initially, vaccine amounts will be limited and there will be a need for sub-prioritization. Personnel at the highest-risk of exposure to COVID-19, including those who currently work in COVID-19 patient care units, have direct contact with COVID-19 patients, as well as the staff who will administer the vaccines will be the priority. DCHD officials are in communication with local hospitals and health care partners to finalize these plans as further information about vaccine shipments is available.

A COVID-19 Vaccine webpage has been launched for the public to stay informed of the latest information regarding the vaccine and plans for distribution in DuPage County. As more information becomes available, DCHD will update its website. To view the COVID-19 Vaccine page, visit www.dupagehealth.org/covid19vaccine.

In the meantime, the Health Department urges residents to continue to do their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Washing your hands often;
  • Wearing a mask whenever outside your home or with anyone not from your household;
  • Watching your distance, staying at least 6 feet from people outside of your immediate household and avoiding in-person gatherings; and
  • Staying home if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19, and contacting your healthcare provider for appropriate evaluation, testing, and care.

Anyone who is seeking testing is reminded of the various options throughout DuPage County, including the two drive-thru community-based testing sites in Wheaton and Villa Park. For more information, please visit www.dupagehealth.org/covid19testing.

Additional COVID-19 information and resources can be found at www.dupagehealth.org/covid19.


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