COVID-19 vaccine still in short supply, but unfounded reluctance abounds in Kane County
A lack of local vaccine supply means it may take up to 12 weeks to vaccinate the 125,000 Kane County residents local health department officials estimate are in the Phase 1B priority category.
However, even people who can get shots now continue to show a reluctance to get them, county officials said Wednesday.
Board member Jarett Sanchez, who chairs the committee that oversees the local health department, told fellow board members that about 50% of the municipal police officers refused the vaccine when it was offered to them as part of the opening of Phase 1B. He added "quite a few" detainees at the county jail, which has seen multiple outbreaks, also have refused it.
"There is a lot of vaccine hesitancy amongst people," Sanchez said. "We're hoping we'll see that number (of people getting the vaccine) go up."
Board member Ken Shepro, also an attorney for a local fire district, said firefighters are showing a similar hesitancy.
"Many, many of the young firefighters are declining the vaccine," Shepro said. "I'm not sure what we can do about that. Hopefully, they will become more interested."
Kane County officials continue to urge residents to sign up with the county, local pharmacies and their personal doctors to cast a wide net that gets them the shots as soon as possible.
"The system is working, though it's certainly not ideal," said county board member Vern Tepe, who was scheduled to receive his first vaccine dose Wednesday afternoon. "It's a supply issue. As more supply is becoming available, the probability of you getting vaccinated in the short term, particularly if you are in 1B, is very close to happening."
Sanchez said the county orders the maximum allotment of vaccines available to it every time the state announces more doses have arrived. A recent shipment of 19,000 doses should be gone by next week when local teachers get their vaccine shots. Officials recently placed a new order for 20,000 doses.
Unfounded conspiracy theories abound on social media about the safety of the vaccine. The impact of that misinformation is unclear, but a Pew Research Center survey published in December showed 62% of those responding would be uncomfortable being among the initial vaccine recipients.
Kane County officials are creating new marketing materials to better inform the public about the vaccine and dispel the myths. But many of the largest and most respected health and science organizations have already put out a flood of information and studies attesting to the safety of the vaccines.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, for example, published an article explaining the vaccines were developed faster than any other vaccines, but all the same safety precautions and tests were followed. The mRNA technology, for example, was under study for years before the pandemic, allowing scientists to move forward quickly once the virus's genetic information from early COVID-19 patients was in hand.