3/4/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - IDHS Vaccine Team

Good Afternoon IDHS Staff,

As I shared with you last week, Illinois is continuing to make progress in disseminating the COVID vaccine, including expanding to Phase 1b Plus last week. In today's Bright Spot, it brings me joy to highlight IDHS team members who are part of the solution to bring vaccinations to populations we serve, community workers and residents we fund, and frontline workers we employ.

Our dynamic IDHS vaccine team includes over a dozen leaders, led by Dana Kelly and Carolyn Kopel. Employed at IDHS now for nearly 10 months, Dana has spent five of those months as a project manager to support the 24/7 State-Operated facilities in their COVID response.

When the vaccine first rolled out and it was determined that 24/7 staff and residents would be eligible for the vaccine, Dana mobilized facilities to begin their process. In addition, she has used her experience to coordinate the logistics of vaccine support through storage, coordinating with the Illinois Department of Public Health leadership on vaccine ordering and management, and working to set up a scheduling process for ongoing vaccinations at IDHS sites.

Carolyn Kopel, who co-led my transition team and returned to IDHS last spring and summer to provide additional support for IDHS' 24/7 State-Operated facilities, was gracious enough to return from retirement a third time to help to lead the vaccination effort in the IDHS community. Following guidance that they received from Dr. Brad Hughes, Meredith Kiss, and Tiffany Bailey, Dana and Carolyn organized a large-scale community vaccination program. At IDHS, nearly 6,000 individuals have received vaccine shots. Due to the efforts and coordination of this team, 10,000 vaccines have come from state operated facilities. We are continuing to set up ongoing vaccination opportunities in the coming weeks.

In addition to IDHS's efforts, if you are eligible in phases 1a, 1b, or 1b +, you can schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. To register for the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit https://covidvaccination.dph.illinois.gov. Please check back frequently, as new vaccination sites are added daily.

Whether through opportunities at IDHS or elsewhere, we encourage eligible staff to take advantage of any opportunity to receive an extremely effective vaccine that, in the long-term, will allow us to see the people and do the things we love.

Thank you to all involved: Dr. Brad Hughes, Carolyn Kopel, Dana Kelly, Meredith Kiss, Tiffany Bailey, Brad Koechle, and others from infection control, data support, and pharmacy teams. Many of you have been working on the front lines of the pandemic since March 2020 under very challenging and evolving circumstances. However, with your leadership, we are making significant progress in protecting the health of our residents and community. Because of you, I know we will get through this.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS