UPDATE FROM THE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT 3/18/21:
“Residents of Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie and Stickney Township are now eligible to register for vaccine appointments in suburban Cook County. They will be permitted to register on vaccine.cookcountyil.gov immediately.”READ MORE: Uber Reminding Riders Masks Are Still Required; Mask Enforcement Tips Sent To Drivers
EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — We know the demand for the vaccine is great, but supply is still lagging.
And for a small number of Cook County communities, their options for where to get the vaccine are even more limited.
As CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra reported, this story comes down to two words – not fair. That is how the Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty feels about the fact that people living in the north suburban city can’t be vaccinated at any of Cook County’s mass sites.
The same issue applies in other communities, including Oak Park.
“I think I first experienced this frustration when I just tried to register,” said Marion Baumgarten.
Baumgarten lives in Oak Park and never expected the fact that she lives there would make it harder for her to find a vaccine.
“I went to the Cook County website and tried to register and got redirected to the Village of Oak Park – which at that time didn’t even have any registration at all,” she said.
Outside the city of Chicago but in Cook County, there are four communities with their own public health departments – Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie, and Stickney Township.
All those suburban communities are within Cook County. But put in a ZIP code corresponding to an address in one of those communities at a mass vaccination site sign-up, and you’ll be rerouted.
“Because we have our own public health department, we can’t register to be vaccinated at the mass-vaccination centers within Cook County,” said Mayor Hagerty.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: Who Is Getting A Plus-Up Payment?
Hagerty knows the problem. In an email to residents Monday, he said that hurdle was “simply not fair to Evanston residents.”
So he has asked the county to fix it to allow Evanstonians’ access to those events.
“They are listening, they understand, and they too are challenged by limited vaccines – so I feel strongly that they’re working on it,” Hagerty said.
Another options is for these suburbs to host their own sites.
“The alternative is that the state set aside an allocation that allows Evanston to have a mass vax event here where we could do thousands and thousands of people,” Hagerty said.
Hagerty believes the arrival of more doses, including Johnson & Johnson’s, will help either one possible. Down in Oak Park, Baumgarten hopes that goes for her community too.
“It’s a very, very convoluted system,” Baumgarten said.
We reached out to Oak Park on Tuesday to ask if it has been part of these conversations about changing access for its residents and we have not heard back. Stickney Township said it has not made that ask of the County, but like Evanston, Skokie also has.
The Village of Skokie said it hopes to have an update on that access soon.
As to where residents of those four suburban communities can find shots, many had their hopes pinned on the United Center. But on Sunday, the rules there changed so that only Chicago residents may make appointments.
So such as it is, most are turning to Walgreens, Mariano’s, and other private pharmacies, and Evanston’s mayor encouraged residents to do that in his note to them Monday night.
Here are some links to help you make an appointment: (We have to caution you, it may be difficult to find an available shot in the near future and near your home, but we did want to share all these links in one place to perhaps make it easier for you.)MORE NEWS: As Some Summer Camps Prepare To Return, What Changes Could Kids See With Pandemic Not Yet Behind Us?