2/2/21 - An Important Message from the Secretary

The pandemic has amplified long-time systemic racial inequities as demonstrated by Black and Latinx communities being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This inequity extends beyond health care to other social determinant of health, including housing and food security. At IDHS, we have the very important mission of supporting and empowering communities and ensuring equitable access to critical human services. We are also doing our part to contribute towards equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. With our public health colleagues, it is also important for us to help educate residents on the efficacy of the vaccine and creating pathways for access.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 219,367 people across Illinois have been fully vaccinated. At least 777,043 people across the state have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The life-saving vaccines went through rigorous trials involving tens of thousands of informed volunteers of all races, ages, ethnicities, and walks of life. We know that these vaccines will save lives. And, we recognize the reticence in many communities of color to trust health care providers; current and entrenched health care disparities and unethical treatment of communities of color have resulted in real harm to these communities. We are committed to work alongside health care providers and community leaders to begin to rectify this.

We are partnering with key, faith-based leaders, Black and Latinx legislators, and others to share the importance of getting vaccinated. We want to reiterate the vaccine is more than 90% effective and is free of charge. I invite you to hear this important message from Pastor Steve Epting who has been involved in ministry for 17 years and was installed as the Senior Pastor of Hope Community Church in February 2004.

Click here to watch the video from Pastor Steve Epting.

Additionally, Governor JB Pritzker announced a new portal at coronavirus.illinois.gov to provide residents with easily accessible information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Coronavirus.illinois.gov will provide eligible residents with information on vaccination sites near them, information on how to make an appointment to receive the vaccine, updates on the State's plan and eligibility, and answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. As the availability of the vaccine increases in the coming weeks, we expect to see a similar increase in the availability of times and places where you can receive your vaccination.

Now is the time to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. When you can vaccinate, please do so and be sure to communicate with your provider about any questions you may have. As we continue to fight COVID-19, take the IDHS Vaccination Pledge, mask up, and maintain social distance. Please continue to take good care and be well.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS