Winnebago County officials expect slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccine, beginning as early as next week

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — At a weekly press briefing, Winnebago County Health Department director Dr. Sandra Martell gave some details on the county’s plan for distribution of the anticipated coronavirus vaccine.

Martell said the county’s coronavirus vaccine distribution plan has been submitted to the state.

She said the first vaccine moving through the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s emergency approval process is manufactured by Pfizer, and requires two injections, 21 days apart, to become effective against the virus.

The vaccine, which requires subzero storage to remain viable, will be shipped in its own freezer containers and will be used in the time allotted, Martell said.

Martell said she expected the vaccine to become available locally sometime “in mid-December, possibly between December 11th and 13th,” dependent on the FDA’s approval.

She also said the vaccine will receive a slow rollout due to limited availability at first. “There’s going to be multiple phases. Everyone who needs a vaccination will receive a vaccination,” she said.

She said healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities will be prioritized to receive the first batch.

“This is a marathon. We may not see the light yet, but we can see a glimmer of hope,” she added.

Martell said the initial rollout is “very limited in scope,” but would be voluntary and a consent process will be required. She said employers will “highly encourage” healthcare workers to take the vaccine, and said it could become mandatory, along with other vaccines, once it receives a normal, rather than emergency, FDA authorization.

The general population may not be eligible for the vaccine until Spring or Summer, 2021, she said, and added that the current emergency use authorization under consideration does not include pregnant women or children under 18.

Until a vaccine is widely available, Martell said masks and social distancing will be needed to keep the population safe.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said the city is extending a deadline for the bar and restaurant industry to apply for over $900,000 in available funds intended to help struggling businesses. The mayor said the city has received 90 applications so far, and has a goal to provide over $7,500 to each business.

Since August, McNamara said, the city’s Human Services department has assisted more than 5,860 residents with nearly $3.5 million in utility payments, and received additional funding from the YMCA.

So far, Winnebago County has reported 18,804 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and 264 people have died locally.

Martell said there were 79 new cases reported today, but said she was “cautiously optimistic” that cases were declining.

Region 1’s 7-day rolling positivity average: 15% (14.8% yesterday)
Boone: 19.6% (20.3% yesterday)
Carroll: 9.2% (8.7 % yesterday)
DeKalb: 12.2% (11.9% yesterday)
Jo Daviess: 9.2% (9.5% yesterday)
Lee: 17.4% (18.4% yesterday)
Ogle: 15.7% (15.4% yesterday)
Stephenson: 14.7% (14.4% yesterday)
Whiteside: 14.4% (14.8% yesterday)
Winnebago: 15.7% (15.2% yesterday)

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