Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Officials hail New Trier vaccine site as model

Location called blueprint staffed by paramedics

- By Karen Ann Cullotta kcullotta@chicagotri­bune.com Twitter @kcullotta

The launch of a new COVID-19 vaccine site staffed by local paramedics at New Trier High School last week could provide the blueprint for future sites across Illinois and the U.S., officials said Wednesday.

A total of 571 vaccines were in the arms of educators, first responders and essential workers by 5 p.m. Wednesday at the pilot vaccinatio­n site at the high school’s Northfield campus at 7 Happ Road, Cook County Department of Public Health spokesman Thomas McFeeley said in an email.

Taking just two minutes per client to administer each vaccine, there were no adverse affects to those vaccinated, and second doses will be given on March 17, McFeeley said.

Aside from slating a date for the second dose, McFeeley said officials have not yet determined when the site might be offering vaccines again, adding: “But these numbers are terrific so I think there will be reason to continue with this (point of delivery) for essential municipal workers.”

Cook County Public Health CEO Israel Rocha Jr. said while county officials are “very proud of the work” that has been done to ensure an equitable distributi­on of the vaccine to communitie­s hit hardest by the virus, he acknowledg­ed the frustratio­ns of those who have been trying without success to procure appointmen­ts.

“Patience is a key ingredient,” Rocha said, adding he is hopeful the model at New Trier can be replicated throughout Cook County once there is a more robust supply of the vaccine.

Cook County Commission­er Scott Britton, 14th District, said with a lack of vaccine sites in the north suburbs, the opening of the new point of distributi­on at New Trier was, “the fulfillmen­t of a dream.”

Despite facing a “plethora of challenges and demands” that needed to be overcome before the new partnershi­p was forged by Cook County Department of Public Health, the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Division 3 and area hospitals, Britton said area fire chiefs and officials at New Trier and several adjacent communitie­s were determined to make it work.

“This unpreceden­ted partnershi­p between the county and local government is a perfect example of how cooperatio­n and collaborat­ive problem solving among public officials can have a profound impact on our communitie­s’ lives,” Britton said.

Winnetka Village President Chris Rintz said he is hopeful that after the initial rollout to educators and first responders, vaccines administer­ed at the New Trier site might eventually be available to other local residents.

“Thank goodness we’re here today, watching people getting vaccines in their arms,” Rintz said.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkl­e, who did not attend the kickoff of the New Trier vaccine site, said in a statement that the new site is a step forward in the county’s equity-centered COVID-19 vaccinatio­n plan.

“We’ve seen over the last year the hard work and sacrifices of our educators and first responders during the pandemic, and I am grateful that we were able to establish this site to make it easier for them to be vaccinated,” Preckwinkl­e added.

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