DuPage expects to fully vaccinate 80% of residents by July 1
DuPage County officials say they plan to have 80% of eligible residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within two months.
The county already has a head start on the ambitious plan as nearly 43% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records. Vaccines currently are approved for those 16 and older.
A person is considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after getting a final dose of the vaccine.
DuPage ranks first among suburban counties and fourth in the state for percentage for eligible residents who are fully vaccinated. Only Monroe County, south of St. Louis with a population of 33,000; Sangamon County, where Springfield is; and Adams County, centered around Quincy, have a higher percentage of eligible residents fully vaccinated, according to IDPH records.
Suburban Cook County ranks 10th with almost 40% of those eligible fully vaccinated. In Lake and Will counties, 35% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, along with 34.8% in Kane County and 33.8% in McHenry County.
Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department, said the uptake in vaccinations throughout the county is due, in part, to consistent messaging by health officials and government leaders.
"We have had a unified message among ourselves, whether it be the elected representatives or our health care system leaders, which has been a resounding message that vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective and vaccines are the way forward," she said at a news conference Friday announcing plans to make vaccinations more accessible throughout the county.
DuPage County leads the state in the percentage of residents ages 16 to 64 who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with more than 52% at least partially vaccinated.
It is second only to Kendall County in getting at least one dose into the arms of residents who are 65 and older, with 88.2% of that age group either fully or partially vaccinated.
At Friday's gathering, health care officials from DuPage Medical Group and Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove announced plans to expand vaccinations to all residents, not just patients. Additionally, the vaccination site at the county fairgrounds in Wheaton will open Monday to walk-ins without appointments.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said such measures will get the county back "to the normal we crave."
"If we can work together and get our vaccination rates as close to 100% as possible, we will be doing all we can, as individuals and as a county, to end this pandemic," he said. "If we work together, we can ensure that our county emerges from this pandemic as soon as possible, stronger and more resilient than ever before."
Meanwhile, Lake County Health Department officials have begun offering walk-in vaccinations at the fairgrounds site in Grayslake as well. They will be offered from noon to 3 p.m. Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Wednesdays, walk-ins are welcome from 2 to 5 p.m., officials said.
Suburban Cook County began offering vaccinations to walk-ins this week at all mass vaccination sites, after offering them at a couple of the sites starting last week.
Elsewhere, Highland Park officials announced Fourth of July celebrations would be virtual this year and a fireworks display would be tentatively moved to Labor Day weekend.