A new pilot program launched Thursday will bring coronavirus vaccines to residents at temporary pop-up sites across suburban Cook County.
The sites are “a component of our equity-focused approach to the vaccine distribution,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday at Garden House Apartments in Maywood, where 100 senior residents were set to receive the vaccine. “We’re meeting residents right here where they are at their homes to provide access to the vaccine. … This is a point-of-distribution site, so it’s for the people in this particular building.”
Cook County is currently vaccinating health care workers, residents at long-term care facilities and those older than 65, Preckwinkle said.
The new pop-up distribution sites will allow the county to focus on vulnerable populations and fill in any vaccination gaps, according to Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha.
“Pop-ups like this are so vital in our fight against COVID to make sure everyone has access to vaccination, including bringing (vaccines) directly (to them) where they live, where they work and where they are,” Rocha said.
“Today’s the start of vaccines on the go, so we go to locations where people live, where they work, where we’re able to do that. We also have a program called vaccines at work, where we’ll be looking at any areas that either had big outbreaks or heavily impacted or having a difficult time being able to get vaccine,” Rocha said, adding the county is also planning on launching a program that will help people travel to vaccination sites.
The county considers multiple factors when deciding where to host a pop-up distribution site, according to Rocha.
“We’re looking at our equity strategy. In partnership with our public health department, we look at communities based on how much vaccine they received, the percentage of vaccination in those areas, the impact of the mortality and morbidity of COVID and also any social or economic risk factors that make it difficult to get to some of our other (vaccination) sites,” he said. “Then we look at clusters of infection, areas that have had greatest need or areas where there’s greatest challenges.”
Organizations that are interested in hosting COVID-19 vaccinations at their facilities can register online, according to Rocha.
“That information goes directly to our public health department who’s helping coordinate this based on the risk, criteria, the social factors and the availability of us being able to operationalize these sites safely,” he said.
Organizations serving adults ages 65 and older, vulnerable populations in congregate settings and essential employees with limited access to care will be prioritized, according to officials.