When Will Southern Illinois Residents Have Access To The COVID-19 Vaccine?

The vaccine is ready and available — and those who want to receive it are getting impatient already. The problem is simple: there aren’t enough vaccines to go around. There won’t be for months. Right now, essential personnel will receive it first. That means police, firefighters, hospital staff, etc. Also at the top of the list are those working or living in nursing homes or those who are 65 and older. 

And that makes sense as the most equitable solution to the COVID-19 crisis. We give the vaccines to those who need it the most first. But the rest of us will have to wait.

Jackson County’s recent health department COVID-19 news release outlined the difficulties in simple terms: “Every person wanting vaccination will eventually be served. Please be patient and continue to take precautions to protect yourself and your family from the spread of COVID-19.”

Nathan Ryder of the Southern Seven Health Department voiced concern about the difficulties in getting the population vaccinated: “It’s hard to sit and wait. The general public doesn’t see that we are out vaccinating all day every day.”

The supply chain is getting better, but it still isn’t enough to ensure that everyone gets a vaccine before the summer months, even in mostly rural Southern Illinois. 

Southern Seven has vaccinated barely 4,000 residents in Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, and Union counties. The number will continue to climb, but maybe not fast enough to guarantee that residents will calm down and wait more patiently.

The supply might get a boost if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine receives emergency approval, which is likely in the coming weeks. Others could also be right around the corner.

Vaccinations have been offered at several Walgreens and Kroger locations, but most anyone seeking one of the vaccinations will have to sign up online first. And it can be yet another obstacle to get older people to sign up to come in.

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