Health officials break down order of COVID-19 vaccine line

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Health care professionals across the country continue to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including ones here in central Illinois. But who’s next in line?

It’s been a little more than two weeks since the first vaccine shipments arrived in Champaign County for people in the healthcare industry. They are part of group 1-A.

The order of people in line to get vaccinated is broken into 3 phases — each with subgroups.

“Once the 1-A is done, and we are hoping that it is pretty much done by the end of this week, we are expecting some rollout of 1-B,” says Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

Group 1-B will include first responders and people 75 and older first, followed by these frontline essential workers: teachers, daycare staff, grocery store workers, and manufacturing and food processing staff. People 65 and older with underlying health conditions also fall into group 1-B.

Group 1-C is people 16-65 with underlying conditions.

That all makes up phase one.

Phase two is critical infrastructure employees and people with moderate comorbid conditions.

Phase three is the rest of the general public.

So how do health officials go about making these big decisions?

“It’s a balancing act between trying to save lives and trying to keep things open,” says Vaid. “In addition to the logistical challenge of administering vaccines, it’s also important we balance the ethical consecrations.”

For example, CUPHD officials say healthcare workers and first responders should get the vaccine ahead of some people with underlying health conditions since they’re the ones usually handling their medical care and emergencies.

The Macon County Health Department says they basically have the same plan.

So does Vermilion County’s department (VCHD), but COVID-19 cases continue to rise at the Danville Correctional Center.

So where do inmates fall in line?

“Even though a lot of vaccine is coming to the health department, there are some facilities that are getting theirs directly,” says VCHD Administrator Doug Toole. “We’re expecting that the same sort of thing is going to happen to some of the large correctional facilities and other facilities we have. So, these folks will still be getting the vaccine, it just won’t be by the local health department.”

Staff and residents at nursing homes are also part of group 1-A for vaccines, but it’s separate from health departments. It’s through a federal contract with CVS and Walgreens.

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