To date, Iroquois County Public Health Department (ICPHD) and IMH have administered over 3,600 vaccines, with more vaccine clinics scheduled. Bill Baker, Infection Control at Iroquois Memorial Hospital, has helped educate IMH staff, as well as the community, on COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Now, he is one of many, who help in administering the vaccines and educating the public.
Iroquois County is currently in phase 1b of vaccine administration. This phase consists of groups, such as essential workers and those 65 and up. As more vaccines become available, the ICPHD will issue a press release, announcing the next vaccine clinic and those who qualify. Those people may then call ICPHD and schedule their appointment. The vaccine clinics are held at IMH on the ground floor, where they screen, vaccinate, monitor and make the appointment for the second dose. The entire process only takes about 25 minutes and has been described by many as a “well-oiled machine”. Baker gives high regard to everyone involved, saying “I am only one of the team members that help in giving the vaccine. It requires staff to greet patients and get proper documentation right from the beginning. To educate people we have a fact sheet available to answer any questions they may have.” Vaccinating hundreds of people a day is a commendable feat. It is truly a team effort and the staff of both IMH and ICPHD continue to work together to ensure a smooth process.
Although thoroughly researched, these vaccines are still quite new and some people are uncertain about receiving it. Baker’s advice is to view the vaccines like a flu vaccine. “First, understand the vaccine is intended to keep you from dying from Covid-19; similar to a flu vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna are messenger RNA vaccines that tell the body to make a protein that triggers your body to make memory cells, which destroys the virus should you come in contact with it. Both these vaccines are safe and have shown to be 95% effective at doing this.” Many ask, “What are the effects of this vaccine? If I get it, will I be sick?”. Baker states, “The majority of people who receive the vaccine will get some tenderness to the vaccination site, generally lasting a couple days; this is the body’s way of making memory cells. Some people may have a stronger reaction than others, and some may even have an allergic type reaction called anaphylaxis, requiring immediate attention. That is why we require you to be monitored for 15 minutes after the vaccine. For those who cannot decide or have additional concerns, it’s always best to consult your primary care physician. IMH’s clinics have very good providers, who you can partner up with to get advice. Your provider should know your needs and be willing to discuss what is best in your personal situation.” Most people have nothing to worry about and should get the vaccine as more become available.
Many who have received the vaccine are thrilled to be among the first to do their part in helping stop this pandemic and get one step closer to “normalcy”. Rol Heuton, a volunteer at Iroquois Memorial Hospital said, “Thank you so much for giving me the vaccine. I am excited to come and volunteer as soon as safely possible. I truly miss my IMH family and look forward to coming back.” Of course, just receiving the vaccine does not give you 100% immunity; the best protection from COVID-19 is a combination of the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often. No one tool is going to stop the pandemic. Bill Baker’s last bit of advice is “Please get vaccinated to help yourself and those around you.” It’s important we all do our part to put an end to COVID-19.
The last year has been hard to say the least. The world has been through a lot and everyone’s experienced various emotions and hardships. One thing we’ve learned, however, is how strong, resilient, and selfless the people of this community are. Now, we must work together to do our part, build community immunity, and put a stop to this pandemic.