FHN Update on COVID-19 Vaccinations

March 25, 2021 – As more vaccine becomes available throughout the country, case numbers nationally have come down or leveled off since a peak late in 2020 and residents in FHN's northwest Illinois service area are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in ever-increasing numbers. Most vaccinations here so far have been done with two-dose vaccines that require a second shot, 21 days after the first one for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days after the first one for the Moderna vaccine. The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just beginning to be distributed and used here.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have treated over 380 COVID-19 patients at FHN Memorial Hospital,” said Mark Gridley, FHN President and CEO. “In addition, we've tested almost 19,000 people for the virus, opened our Acute Respiratory Clinic to serve both COVID-19 patients and those with other respiratory conditions, and administered 6,183 doses of vaccine. Our staff are currently vaccinating individuals three days every week at our dedicated COVID-19 vaccination location at 1763 S. Dirck Dr. in Freeport, as well as hundreds more at community events throughout Northwest Illinois.”

Since the beginning of vaccine distribution, only county health departments have been able to order vaccine for use by healthcare organizations and a different process entirely is in place for vaccines administered by retail pharmacies. According to FHN Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Martinez, “FHN has worked closely with the Stephenson County Health Department (SCHD) to ensure that we can maximize vaccination efforts for our area. For example, on March 2 we jointly announced consolidation of the online appointment request process for COVID-19 vaccinations. At that time, FHN took over management of the online registration list for Stephenson County, as well as making it available for other counties we serve. Since almost all vaccinations are currently being done by appointment only, we also are responsible for making a majority of calls to people on the list to set up their appointments - we average 150-200 calls per day. We are also vaccinating an average of 300-500 people per week using vaccine requested by the SCHD for our use.”

At the time of the list consolidation, Stephenson County Health Administrator Craig Beintema said, “We are glad to turn over the process of maintaining and implementing the process for the vaccination waiting list to FHN. As the availability of vaccines expands and ever more people need to be scheduled, our limited staff will be fully engaged in requesting the vaccine from the Illinois Department of Public Health and distributing it for use throughout the County, as well as participating in many upcoming vaccination events. This will allow us to concentrate on those important tasks.”

Please note that figures in this release may not directly match statistics for Stephenson County available through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Since FHN serves multiple counties in northwest Illinois this represents more patients than the numbers for Stephenson County available through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Those in northwest Illinois wishing to be added to the FHN list for vaccination appointments may do so at www.fhn.org/vaccination-waitlist.asp.