Hospital employees and local paramedics will be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines from the village of Oak Park under a program shared Monday by Village Manager Cara Pavlicek with the village board. 

As a certified public health department, the village received approval Nov. 27 from the state to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. Pavlicek said staff feels “fairly confident” that the village would receive an initial allocation of vaccinations in mid-December.

Front line personnel, including hospital employees, will be the first to receive the vaccination.

“Another group that can receive those initial vaccines are paramedics,” said Pavlicek. “The village does employ paramedics so we will also have a process for vaccination of paramedics.”

The COVID-19 vaccinations are completely optional.

“While it seems odd to think of it like offering a flu vaccination to your work force, that’s how we’re approaching it,” said Pavlicek. “But obviously with a lot more seriousness.”

Pavlicek believes the initial round of vaccinations will be two-dose vaccines and that every allotment the village receives will include the second dose. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as a “planning committee under the CDC,” are providing guidance for a “three-tiered system” to vaccinate individuals in the country, said Pavlicek. 

“Predominantly that results in the CDC providing vaccinations, once emergency use authorizations are provided by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], to state governments,” said Pavlicek.

The states will then distribute the vaccinations to authorized providers, said Pavlicek.

Residents living in nursing homes will not be vaccinated through the village but through “federal and statewide agreements with pharmaceutical companies.”

“Nursing homes will also be vaccinated directly,” said Pavlicek. “We will neither receive their shipment of vaccinations nor deliver those vaccinations.”  

As for the people who are not hospital workers, paramedics or nursing home residents, when they will receive COVID-19 vaccines is not yet determined. 

“Probably right after the first of the year, we’ll be able to provide a little bit better guidance on how the public will be vaccinated,” said Pavlicek

Pavlicek also said it was important to consider age and underlying health conditions when determining the order in which members of the public receive vaccines, so don’t throw away those masks yet. 

“This is going to take a process, but I have great confidence in our health department staff,” said Pavlicek.

COVID spikes here in past week

After their positivity rates dropped a week ago, Oak Park and River Forest had another alarming week battling COVID-19 as 155 Oak Park and 32 River Forest residents tested positive for the novel coronavirus from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8. 

River Forest had 18 people test positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 3, its worst single-day total since the start of the pandemic. 

Since March 18, when the Oak Park Department of Public Health started providing updates on coronavirus’ impact on the community, 1,782 Oak Park residents have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Oak Park went from averaging 16 cases a day on Nov. 30 to 24.4 cases a day on Dec. 6. The Oak Park Department of Public Health reported 117 new cases of COVID-19 between Dec. 4 and 7. The village’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is now up to 6.54 percent, according to Northwestern University’s COVID-19 database. 

River Forest’s 14-day rolling positivity rate has climbed to 8.04 percent, which is four percent higher than it was on Nov. 4. 

After six deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Oak Park, Nov. 23-30, there were no residents who died of COVID-19 this past week. River Forest’s COVID-19 database does not contain information regarding the health of those in assisted living facilities. 

According to Cook County’s director of communications, Natalia Derevyanny, the county has had 6,954 COVID-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. There were 390 COVID-19 related fatalities in Cook County since Nov. 30.

James Kay, staff writer

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