COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Slows; Doctors Escalating Efforts To Get Minorities, Men Their Shots

CICERO (CBS) — In the past two to three weeks, vaccine supply has overtaken demand in the suburbs, forcing health departments in Cook and the collar counties to change their strategy.

CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra found there are some communities where lower rates are expected. However, other groups not getting vaccinated may come as a surprise.

Right now, it is too quiet at the Cicero Health Department vaccination clinic for Director Susan Grazzini.

“A couple weeks ago, there was a line going around there, everyone was sitting here,” Grazzini said. “We would have people waiting to go in there because we didn’t have enough chairs.”

Last week brought a dramatic drop in the number of shots they put in arms.

“One day, we gave 250, but nothing like the 400 to 500 that we were expecting,” Grazzini said.

There are fewer appointments, more cancellations, no shows and numbers lower than the state’s average. Just 26% of the town is fully vaccinated.

“My concern is the essential workers,” Grazzini said. “That’s where I feel we are missing them.”

Cicero’s public health department says it’s seeing lower rates of vaccination in its predominantly minority communities to the south and west. Will County is seeing similar data.

“Our Hispanic, Latinx neighborhoods, our Black, African American neighborhoods, I just received some information about our Polish community as well,” said Vinita Voss of the Will County Health Deptartment. “Whether that is a hesitancy issue or an access issue or a combination of both.”

In DuPage County, one demographic is sticking out for the wrong reasons.

“One of the issues that we have seen is that there seems to be a reluctance in the male population,” said Karen Ayala of the county Health Department. “Is it some Friday morning that we go out to the golf course and try to catch people there, so there will be a real opportunity for creative outreach in the next couple weeks.”

All three counties are taking the same steps to address the problems,.  They are doing smaller vaccine pop-ups in neighborhoods and workplaces or extending hours at their current mass vax sites so shots are easier to get to outside of 9 to 5. Back in Cicero, they hope those efforts can once again put shots where they belong–in a person’s arm.

“Vaccines are very safe. And we’re in this pandemic together, so if you want to not just protect your life but your neighbor’s life, this is the only way,” said Grazzini.

Cicero‘s ultimate goal is to fully vaccinate at least 75% of its population to reach herd immunity. To do that, they are forming an education committee. The town wants them to figure out the best way to reach more people, answer some of those questions that are still out there and hopefully change some minds.