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State Partners with Nine Critical Access Hospitals to Expand Equitable Distribution of Vaccine in Rural Communities

Building on Partnerships with FQHCs and Safety Net Hospitals, New Phase of Program to Help Reach Rural and Underserved Communities

MORRIS – Building on efforts to ensure the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine across Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced that nine critical access hospitals were selected as part of the Safety Net Direct Vaccine Allocation Pilot program.

This is the next phase of the vaccine pilot program the administration announced on March 3, 2021, in which five federally qualified health centers and four safety net hospitals started receiving vaccine doses directly from the federal government. This next phase specifically targets rural communities, providing hundreds of doses to each site per week.

“I’m proud that we’re expanding this important program with a special focus on rural communities,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Adding nine critical access hospitals across Illinois, to begin receiving additional vaccine allocations, is a continuation of our mission to meet communities where they already are. Rural communities deserve the same protections from this virus that suburban and urban communities get.”

Starting this week, the state will provide a combined total of nearly 6,000 vaccine doses per week to nine critical access hospitals. This is in addition to the allocated doses the state distributes to existing health care partners, such as local health departments and pharmacies.

This next phase aims to reduce disparities in access to the vaccine by helping those who may face additional barriers such as underlying conditions or reliable transportation. IDPH used rural and geographic considerations to select the sites in this phase of the pilot program.

“Our rural hospitals are thankful for the additional vaccines being provided to our vulnerable members of the community,” said Sen. Sally Turner (R-Lincoln). “The more shots in arms, the closer we get to opening the doors to many of our businesses to full capacity. We are all hopeful to continue this progress and get business, tourism, and hospitality up and running. And I think we are all looking forward to hugging our loved ones!”

“As we continue with the state’s vaccination rollout, it’s crucial that the more rural areas of Illinois are not forgotten and overlooked,” said Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “Especially here in Southern Illinois where gaining access or traveling to vaccine sites proves to be more of a challenge, we have to ensure that we are doing everything we can bring vaccine availability to our residents. I’m encouraged to learn that Hamilton Memorial Hospital will be receiving critical vaccine dosages and hope that we continue to expand vaccine access in the region.”

“The medical teams and staff at both Taylorville Memorial Hospital and Hillsboro Area Hospital have been working diligently to improve the health of those within their communities and this substantial increase in the COVID-19 vaccine supply is urgently needed,” said Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “We are certainly making strides to bring this pandemic to an end as we’ve seen more hospitals receive additional dosages. I am proud of this administration’s efforts to target vulnerable areas where residents have experienced limited access to the vaccine.”

“Our critical access hospitals have been key partners throughout this pandemic – helping care for our communities and now helping get vaccines to our citizens,” said Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield). “Broader vaccine availability and distribution in our rural areas is good news as we work to fully reopen our state.”

“Critical access hospitals are an important partner toward expanding COVID vaccine distribution in West Central Illinois,” said Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Alpha). “Genesis Medical Center in Aledo serves the needs of our community well and are an integral piece of the puzzle distributing more vaccines in our region. I am grateful for their involvement.”

“I am happy to report that Hamilton Memorial Hospital will be expanding distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Southern Illinoisans,” said Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton). “We are fortunate to have a critical access hospital in Southern Illinois to partner with to get more vaccines in the arms of Illinoisans.”

The program is part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy, by providing residents with the opportunity to receive vaccines from local, trusted providers. Vaccines will be available to residents by appointment only. In accordance with the first phase of the pilot program, the critical access hospitals will first prioritize their patient base before expanding their vaccine capacity to the broader community.

Sites participating in the program include:

• Taylorville Memorial Hospital, Christian County
• Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services, Ford County
• Hamilton Memorial Hospital District, Hamilton County
• Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, Logan County
• Genesis Medical Center Aledo, Mercer County
• Hillsboro Area Hospital, Montgomery County
• Hopedale Medical Complex, Tazewell County
• Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, Vermilion County
• Fairfield Memorial Hospital, Wayne County

Illinois continues to grow the network of state-supported vaccination sites operating across Southern, Central and Northern Illinois. To date, Illinois has more than 880 vaccination locations statewide. To find additional information about vaccine availability, including the locations and eligibility, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov.

 

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