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Rural Illinois Vaccination Program Stopping in Six Counties
Illinois Ag Connection - 04/08/2021

To further expand vaccine accessibility in rural communities, the State of Illinois is sending rural vaccination teams to six counties this week, with capacity to vaccinate more than 8,000 people with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This program is seeing promising results, vaccinating more than 4,700 people in the first two weeks of operation.

"Our Rural Vaccination Program is seeing extraordinary results in its first weeks and I'm thrilled to see this program expand to additional counties," said Governor JB Pritzker. "These sites bring thousands of doses directly into the community, reducing transportation barriers and ensuring residents in all corners of Illinois have access to this life-saving vaccine."

"I'd like to thank the Governor and the Illinois National Guard for making this mass vaccination clinic possible," said Stephen Melega, public health administrator for Shelby County. "This event brought a lot of vaccine and services to the community. This was the first time we had been able to utilize the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine which allowed us to more than double the percentage of county residents that are fully vaccinated. I think because of that we had a great turnout over our two-day event, providing more than 1400 vaccinations."

Addressing travel distances to providers is a key step in expanding access to healthcare in rural communities. This one-stop shop clinic will result in people getting fully vaccinated quicker and without the logistics, cost and time commitment associated with coordinating a second trip.

On April 12, Illinois will expand eligibility to all residents ages 16 years and older; however, many local health departments have already expanded eligibility to all residents. Per the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization, only residents 18 years and older can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Rural Vaccination Program is a great opportunity for farmers and producers to get fully vaccinated ahead of the farming season.

"These vaccination clinics are a one-stop-shop for farmers," said Jerry Costello II, Illinois Department of Agriculture, acting director. "Agriculture is our state's number one industry and we must do all we can to protect it. Getting vaccinated ensures that our food supply chain can continue to run smoothly. There's light at the end of the tunnel and now is not the time to let up."

"Kankakee County residents have been in desperate need of more vaccines, and I have been working diligently to increase our community's supply to keep up with our neighboring counties," said State Senator Joyce (D-Park Forest). "As we continue to make strides toward ending this pandemic, I encourage folks who are eligible to take advantage of this vaccine clinic this week."

"Getting the vaccine is one of the best ways we can protect our neighbors and loved ones, which is why I'm thrilled to see a more convenient location for folks in our community to get their dose," said State Senator Bennett (D-Champaign). "Increasing our vaccination rates will put our community back on track to get our lives and economy back to normal."

"I am pleased the Governor is allowing folks 18 and older an opportunity to receive their first dose of the vaccine here in Danville. The vaccination site will have 1,000 doses ready to go for anyone that would like to sign up to receive the vaccine, so please call the Vermilion County Health Department or my office for any questions or concerns on this process," said State Representative Mike Marron (R-Fithian).

"I am pleased that the Pritzker administration is working to ensure that all Illinoisans have reasonable access to the Covid-19 vaccine. This devastating virus has cost so many their lives and livelihoods, so I strongly encourage my constituents to take advantage of the Rural Vaccination Program in Kankakee this week in an effort to expeditiously stop the spread," said State Representative Jackie Haas (R-Kankakee).

These mobile teams will be operated by members of the Illinois National Guard in partnership with local health departments, and appointments are prioritized for county residents.

To date, there are more than 1,480 Illinois National Guard troops assigned to COVID-19 operations. Divided into 92 different teams, these troops are operating at 43 locations throughout the state and have already administered more than 734,114 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are now more than 900 vaccination locations in Illinois open to the public, and these locations can be viewed online at https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/. For those having difficulty navigating online services to make vaccination appointments, the state's Vaccine Appointment Call Center can help. This hotline is available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight at 1-833-621-1284.

The state-supported vaccination sites are open to all eligible Illinois residents, regardless of where they live, unless otherwise noted. All state-supported vaccination sites require appointments through the local health department. Residents must meet the state's current eligibility requirements to book an appointment.


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