State announces launch of rural vaccination pilot program this week
In an effort to further expand vaccine accessibility in rural communities, the State of Illinois is launching a rural vaccination pilot program.
Starting this week, additional National Guard mobile operations will begin visiting rural communities with the capability to deliver upwards of 1,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine per day.
The program was scheduled to begin with events in Fayette and Shelby counties, where a combined 2,600 doses could be administered before expanding to additional sites in Moultrie and Clay County later this week.
Addressing travel distances to providers is a key step in expanding access to healthcare in rural communities, state officials said.
The rural vaccination pilot program, which will run local vaccination clinics supported by local health departments as a one-stop shop, is designed to get people vaccinated quicker, without the logistics and time commitment associated with coordinating a second trip.
The mobile teams will be operated by members of the Illinois National Guard in partnership with local health departments. Appointments will be limited to county residents only.
As the spring planting season approaches, state officials said the rural vaccination clinics serve as an opportunity for farmers.
“Before the busy planting season gets underway, we urge eligible farmers and producers to find a vaccination center near them. In many cases, farmers are self-employed. As a reminder, there is no charge to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Insurance is not required, and the vaccine will be administered regardless of your immigration status,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who is chairperson of the Governor’s Rural Affair’s Council.
As of early this week, there were more than 900 vaccination locations in Illinois open to the public.
For those having difficulty navigating online services to make vaccination appointments, the Vaccine Appointment Call Center may be able to assist.
The hotline is available seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Call agents’ primary role is to help individuals navigate the various online registration sites.
However, if the individual does not have access to online services or is unable to navigate the site, the call agent will make an appointment on the caller’s behalf. The phone number is 1-833-621-1284.
For more information on how to make an appointment to receive the vaccine, updates on the state’s plan and eligibility, and answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, go to coronavirus.illinois.gov.