Lake County rolls out website to help residents get registered for COVID-19 vaccine
Lake County residents can start registering for COVID-19 vaccines, officials said Wednesday, as deaths from the virus statewide grew by about 28% in a week.
Meanwhile, officials confirmed that "months and months" from now when the general public can get COVID-19 shots, doses will be available at myriad locations, from your doctor's office to corner drugstores.
New COVID-19 cases numbered 8,256 Wednesday with an additional 179 people dying from the respiratory disease, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
Deaths over the past week averaged about 148 people a day, compared to about 116 deaths per day from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2.
The news comes with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration poised to potentially approve a Pfizer Inc. vaccine Thursday, triggering distribution among health care workers in the coming days.
On Wednesday, the Lake County Health Department debuted an AllVax website, at https://allvax.lakecohealth.org, that lets people register for shots, receive notifications and schedule appointments.
"This portal is a huge advance in being able to reduce infections and restore our communities, and we encourage all residents to do their part -- get registered on the portal and get vaccinated," Health Informatics Director Jefferson McMillan-Wilhoit said.
Once vaccines are approved, long-term care residents, first-responders, essential workers and people with underlying conditions will be prioritized.
"Even with all the well-deserved excitement around a vaccine right now, it will be months and months before vaccines are available to the general public," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a briefing.
At that time, locations for shots will include pharmacies, health clinics, medical practices and large sites, similar to state COVID-19 testing facilities.
"Everywhere that you have been able to get a flu shot in the past," Pritzker said. "We hope that when the general public has the vaccine available to it, we will be providing it to all of those locations."
In Lake County, when residents register on the health department's website, they are asked to list their risk factors for COVID-19, spokeswoman Hannah Goering said.
"If they have none, they would be prioritized with the general public at a later date," she said. "They will receive an email when a vaccine is available to them if they are registered for the system."
There were 5,284 COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals as of Tuesday night, the fourth day of an incremental rise in hospitalizations. The seven-day patient average is 5,324 daily. The 28-day hospitalization average is 5,713, which includes eight days of the state's highest COVID-19 patient numbers ever with tallies in the 6,000s.
The state's infection rate stands at 9.6% based on a seven-day average, reflecting a two-day dip below 10% for the first time in a month.
IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike urged Illinoisans not to travel over the December holidays and not to celebrate indoors with people outside their immediate household.
"I've heard people talk about how their family is not going to skip Auntie Grace's mac and cheese, or someone's famous pecan pie," she said. "I would say that you need to ... not skip it ... but to postpone it. The safest way to enjoy the upcoming holidays would still be -- to be virtual."
Total caseloads since the pandemic began are at 812,430 and deaths are at 13,666.
Labs processed 92,737 tests in the last 24 hours.