It remains to be seen whether the dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases we saw last fall is destined for a repeat in 2021. While the delta variant rages among the unvaccinated population, it has made little inroads so far among those who have been inoculated.
But with the FDA still not approving the vaccine’s use for those under the age of 12 and the vaccine’s full FDA-certification still hanging in the balance despite more than 150 million people having been vaccine-protected against the disease – and an entire segment of the media willfully and maliciously spreading misinformation and fear – vaccine rates just aren’t high enough.
While we here in our little corner of northeast Illinois can’t do much about what is going on in places like Florida, where its governor seems intent on sending people to their deaths to satisfy his political principles, we can do more locally to encourage those still sitting on the vaccine fence to get off it and get inoculated.
More to the point, local officials should make educating residents about the importance of being vaccinated and giving them information on how and where to get vaccinated a priority.
None of the village websites in the Landmark’s coverage area – Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside – have direct links to vaccine information on their home pages. While North Riverside’s includes a COVID-19 update section, there’s been no new info since May.
North Riverside, in particular, should make vaccines a focus. Among the three villages it has by far the lowest vaccination rate. With just 37.5 percent of residents fully vaccinated, it seems clear that more needs to be done, because that number has not moved substantially in more than a month.
Educational information about vaccines and how residents can get then should be part of every communication sent by the village to residents, whether that’s in newsletters, water bills or routine announcements. Links to info should be prominently displayed on the website.
North Riverside was the first of the three villages to host a vaccine clinic, and the village should seek to organize more of them and actively reach out to residents to show them how easy it is to get protected against COVID-19.
The village has been actively organizing and promoting village-wide events, such as Pack the Park last weekend and the upcoming, always popular Autumn Fest next month. With so many residents unvaccinated, those events might be good places to reach them to provide info or even vaccines.
While vaccination rates are higher in Brookfield and Riverside, officials there should make vaccine education and clinics a priority there as well. This public health crisis will not abate if we don’t do more to control it.
Local governments leading by example could go a long way to ensure that we here in suburban Cook County are protecting ourselves and our families, even if there are other parts of the nation where death and misery are apparently acceptable consequences of ignoring the greatest public health crisis in a century.