CHAMPAIGN — For the first time since COVID- 19 vaccinations began, several counties in the area haven’t requested any new shots for the week ahead due to dwindling demand and plenty of supply.
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District had about 5,000 leftover doses Friday, enough for clinics being held next week, according to Deputy Administrator Awais Vaid.
It’s the first week Champaign County hasn’t requested a new allotment of Pfizer and/or Moderna shots for the week ahead, though it has asked for about 500 additional single- dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines for the University of Illinois to vaccinate students about to return home soon, he said.
Health department officials in Vermilion, Douglas, Ford, Piatt and DeWitt counties also said they haven’t requested any new vaccine for next week.
In contrast to the advance-appointments-only vaccine clinics that were offered in the first months, Vaid said there are now walk-in appointments offered at some locations.
Among them is Carle Health’s vaccine clinic at the former Dress Barn store in the Kohl’s plaza on Marketview Drive, which will begin offering walk-in appointments Sunday.
The health district tried offering walk-in vaccinations Friday, and given the good response, it plans to continue making walk-in shots available on Fridays in May, Vaid said.
And in stark contrast to a lack of vaccine choice when supplies were harder to come by, at Friday’s walk-in clinic, Vaid said, it was “all three, whatever they want.”
“Now it’s ‘Come any time you want’ — but please come, because that benefits the community,” he said.
David Remmert, administrator of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, said the department has deferred its order for next week.
“We have plenty of doses on hand and have seen a sharp decline in local demand,” he said Friday. “We’ve canceled all of our mass vaccination clinics from April 15 through today, and only have a few second dose clinics scheduled in early May.”
Remmert also said vaccinations have been moved to health department offices and the department plans to work with providers in the area to help them with their vaccine supplies.
“We worked with all of our local schools to vaccinate all those age 16 and over in outreach clinics to the schools, but we had far fewer consent forms returned than we had anticipated as well,” he said.
Vermilion County Health Department Administrator Doug Toole said that his agency will continue with vaccine clinics next week but didn’t need to request more vaccine because it has plenty on hand.
Douglas County Health Department spokeswoman Summer Phillips said that her agency had 620 Moderna doses and 125 J&J doses in its inventory as of Friday.
Plans for next week include offering 60 open appointments for first doses and a three-hour clinic for second doses, all using vaccine on hand, she said.
In hope of boosting vaccinations, the Douglas County Health Department has challenged local communities — Arcola, Arthur, Atwood, Camargo, Tuscola and Villa Grove — to see which has the most vaccinated residents.
Notice of the challenge went out Thursday, but a day later, there were no takers yet, Phillips said.
‘We’re just trying to think of any way to get them engaged,” she said.
The Douglas County Health Department also will begin accepting information Monday about anyone who is homebound and needs to be vaccinated at their homes, Phillips said.
Ford County Health Department Community Health Educator Megan Reutter said vaccine clinics in that county are attracting only about 20 to 30 people, despite an influx of new COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, vaccination clinics are underway at some high schools in Champaign County, Vaid said.
One that’s already been held at Urbana High School filled 75 to 80 appointments, he said, and others are coming up at Centennial High in Champaign and Mahomet-Seymour High School.
“We are still in discussions with Rantoul and Unity,” he said.
While demand for vaccine has slowed down, Vaid said outreach efforts in which church or community leaders have gotten involved to encourage participation have been fairly successful.
Champaign County has yet to see any of its vaccine go to waste, he said, “but we may be at a point going forward where that may happen.”
Because of that, the county may be ordering more of the Pfizer vaccine in the future, because at six doses per vial, there’s less potential for wasted doses once a vial has been opened than with Moderna, which contains 11 doses in each vial, Vaid said.
The health district has been notified that vaccine doses are available at local CVS, Walgreens, Meijer and Walmart pharmacies, Vaid said.
In Champaign-Urbana, 70 percent of households are within 1 mile of any of those, “so access is not an issue,” he said.