Evanston Public Health Manager Greg Olsen told 3rd Ward residents Thursday evening that the city is now offering COVID-19 vaccinations to residents in their 80s.

The city held a vaccination event Monday targeted to people 85 and over and has another event today for people at least 83 years of age. Those events are also offering vaccinations for healthcare workers who don’t work in a hospital setting.

Evanston firefighter/paramedics administered shots at Monday’s vaccine distribution event.
Evanston firefighter/paramedics administered shots at Monday’s vaccine distribution event.

Olsen said the Phase 1b group, which includes people who work or live in Evanston and are 65 and over “is an extremely large group” and with limited vaccine supplies it will take quite a while to complete their vaccinations. The city has started by vaccinating the oldest residents in that age group, who are considered to be at most risk from the coronavirus disease.

At this point, he told residents participating in the online ward meeting, “We don’t have enough vaccine for everybody, so we have to be very precise about who we’re giving the vaccine to.”

He said the city can now handle about 750 people a day at a POD, or point of dispensing, and is making plans to be able to scale up that capacity dramatically.

“We want to make sure that if we get 5,000 doses we can use it immediately. We don’t want to leave them sitting in a freezer,” Olsen added.

People can register for the vaccination program at cityofevanston.org/vaccine.

Once a person who signs up falls into a group that meets the age group criteria for a given day’s vaccination session, they’ll receive an email from the city, or a phone call if they don’t have an email address, asking to pick a time for an appointment.

The appointments will be filled based on who responds first to the notices.

He said the current goal is to have two vaccination sessions a week. So if a resident who’s in the right age group doesn’t respond in time to be vaccinated on the first date, they should not have to wait long for another chance.

Olsen said that when residents arrive at the vaccination site they’ll be asked to fill out a consent form, and answer 11 screening questions. Actually getting the vaccine is quick, “It takes about 20 seconds or so,” he said.

The longest part of the process, he said is sitting and waiting 15 minutes to make sure no side effects develop. So far there’ve been no instances of adverse side effects at Evanston vaccination sites, he added.

He said there haven’t been any problems getting enough vaccine to provide a second dose to those who’ve already gotten their first shot. “The state has pretty much guaranteed that they will send us sufficient second doses” each week, in addition to an allotment for first-round vaccinations.

Olsen said persons with questions about the vaccination program can contact the Health Department by emailing vaccines@cityofevanston.org. He said several staff members monitor that email address.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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