By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new attempt to get people vaccinated is catching a lot of attention.

It’s an alert sent to your phone, similar to an AMBER Alert or a tornado warning.

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It’s designed to get stragglers to the closest clinic.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports the Indiana Health Department said it worked for that state.

They’ve used the alerts near a vaccine site in Gary, Indiana and afterwards saw a surge in walk-ins.

Could that work in Illinois?

 

A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Public Health said it utilized the public alert system, with messages in areas around the state to notify residents about the availability of COVID vaccination clinics in their area.

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In numerous cases, including the mass vaccination clinics in Gary and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

These alerts have generated walk-ins that more than doubled that dayโ€™s pre-scheduled appointments.

Dr. Kelly Michelson of Northwesternโ€™s Feinberg School of Medicine said local health departments need to be thoughtful about and creative about helping residents around logistical challenges to getting vaccinated.

“That might help some people out who just were having logistical challenges in terms of getting an appointment or getting themselves figuring out how to fit it into their schedule,” Michelson said.

She said the success in Indiana is promising. Michelson also warned that an alert system like this should be used sparingly.

CBS 2 reached out to the Illinois Department of Health about the success. A spokesperson said IDPH does not have a notification system alerting people when vaccine clinics are in the area.

But its $10 million campaign to build confidence in the vaccine through trusted messengers includes scheduling information available at vaccines.gov or through a phone number.

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Indiana’s Chief Medical Officer did note that they’re using the alert system judiciously in addition to other messaging to get the word out about vaccines.

Megan Hickey