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Manager: City preparing to scale up vaccine delivery

Evanston firefighters got their first COVID-19 vaccination shots on Dec. 31. (EFD photo)

Evanston City Manager Erika Storlie says city officials are preparing to scale up vaccination programs as soon as they receive more doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Speaking to residents at an online 2nd Ward meeting Thursday evening, Storlie said, “We’re getting really good at doing 600 people a day at the Levy Center, and we can replicate that model at other sites.”

She speculated that the city could administer 5,000 vaccine doses a day, if it could get a sufficient supply.

She said the city does not plan to set up drive-thru vaccination sites, because of the need to monitor vaccine recipients for adverse side effects for 15 minutes after they get the shot. “Having people sit in their cars idling” doesn’t seem like a good idea, Storlie said, so the city plans to do the vaccinations at its community centers and other locations.

She encouraged residents to complete the city’s vaccination interest form online and said residents who can’t access the form online can call 311 for assistance in filling it out. The city is encouraging everyone who lives or works in Evanston to complete the form, even those under 16 years old, for whom there’s not yet an approved vaccine.

Storlie said the forms will be used to alert residents that they are eligible to be vaccinated on a particular day.

The city is still in Phase 1a of vaccine distribution and anticipates completing initial vaccinations of healthcare workers by early next week.

As of Thursday the city had received 5,225 doses of the vaccines and has provided about 5,000 of them to Evanston hospitals, healthcare workers and paramedics.

The city website says Phase 1b of vaccine distribution could begin “as early as next week or soon thereafter.”

That phase is expected to include frontline essential workers, those living in congregate settings and individuals 65 years and older. Police officers and firefighters, teachers and daycare workers, public transit employees, grocery store workers and manufacturing workers are among those included in the 1b priority group.

Storlie said that because Evanston has its own state-certified health department it’s able to handle the vaccination program directly and has more control over its operation than other municipalities that have to rely on the county health department.

Update 10:30 a.m.: The Washington Post reports this morning that when Trump administration officials announced this week that they would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed. That would mean hopes for a quick ramp up of vaccine distribution can’t be realized.

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