1/19/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Vaccination Campaign Continues Across IDHS

Dear IDHS Colleagues:

Help is Here at IDHS. We continue to be relentlessly committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, patients, residents, partners, providers, and the communities that we serve. We are so pleased to share that as of today, January 19, 1,146 of staff at our 24/7 facilities have been vaccinated. Vaccination of IDHS Developmental Center residents has already begun, with Mental Health Center patients soon to follow. It is encouraging that 70% of employees at several facilities have committed to get vaccinated. As more vaccines are administered, we hope participation rates will continue to climb. Additionally, we have nearly 900 people signed up for the text campaign and anticipate even greater results in the coming weeks. Thanks to you all who have signed up already!

We're pleased to introduce and share the photo of IDPH's Dr. Garth Walker, who just got vaccinated. Dr. Walker recently joined the State of Illinois as an IDPH Deputy Director. He is also an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University. He has assisted IDHS on the vaccination effort and roll-out. Additionally, you'll see the video of IDHS DMH's own Meredith Kiss, who has been a key leader across our vaccination efforts. Click here to watch the video.

We have also been working diligently to prepare for vaccinations for individuals identified in Phase 1b, including determining and advocating for which of our staff are considered essential frontline workers. We will communicate as we confirm which IDHS employees are covered by Phase 1b. Our priority is to help as many IDHS staff as possible get access to these safe, effective vaccines as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We are committed to sharing the most up to date information that will make this rapidly evolving process easy for you. Based on the information we have to date, please see this important information for your reference:

  • Working with the Governor's Office, IDPH, and local health departments, we are continuing to learn about the next groups of individuals who will be eligible for vaccine. As individuals in Phase 1b start to be vaccinated, beginning on January 25, we want to encourage all who fall in that phase (including individuals 65 years and older and essential frontline workers) to vaccinate as soon as possible wherever is most convenient.
  • The current State vaccination plan is referenced here for your information. Further information about the plan is posted here: http://dph.illinois.gov./covid19/vaccine-faq
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health's website continues to be the best source of information on regional conditions and the activities currently restricted and permitted within each region.
  • An IDHS website with relevant information is available at www.DHS.Illinois.gov/COVIDVaccine.

Please continue to be well.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS