By Joe Boyle
As the state moves into Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, OSF HealthCare, which operates Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Evergreen Park, is preparing to offer vaccinations to some patients.
“ In some areas across our ministry we anticipate receiving a limited number of doses this week, which will be offered to those who are 65 years old and older, who are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing complications,” said Sarah Overton, RN, MSN, chief nursing officer and vice president of clinical services for OSF Multispecialty Services.
Patients who meet the age requirement with multiple chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, chronic pulmonary disease and diabetes, to name a few, will be among the first contacted.
“ We are pleased that we are closer to being able to offer the vaccine to members of communities we serve,” Overton added.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday the entire state will move into Phase 1B of vaccine distribution starting Monday, Jan. 25, although some counties have already entered this phase.
Counties that have substantially completed the first phase have started Phase 1B, which includes non-health care essential workers, residents 65 years or older and inmates.
As of Sunday night, a total of 1,085,750 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the state of Illinois.
About 781,150 doses were delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, while the remaining 304,600 doses have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership program for long-term care facilities.
With a high level of interest in receiving the vaccine, OSF is asking its patients and members of the general public to exercise patience. There is concern that hospital or physician office phone lines could be overwhelmed. OSF wants to be sure those who need urgent medical care can get through.
“ When we are able to vaccinate patients, we will reach out to them using OSF MyChart or phone based on the contact information we have for them,” said Overton.
The OSF website is being updated frequently as the process of vaccine distribution moves forward. Instead of calling, the public is asked to go to osfhealthcare.org/vaccine for updates.
OSF is joining state and local public health agencies to take a phased approach to vaccination. The exact timing of the vaccinations will be determined in collaboration with county health departments.
Because initial vaccine supply will be limited, OSF providers will monitor and prioritize vaccines for those who meet specific criteria, based on their medical history.
Additionally, there have questions as to whether residents need to pay for the vaccine. While the COVID-19 vaccination is free, health care providers are allowed to charge an administrative fee, which helps cover costs associated with things such as wages for the health care workers who are giving the shots and documenting patient information, and for storing and transporting the vaccine for use at vaccination clinics.
Insurance plans and governmental payers are required to pay for the administration fees with no out-of-pocket expense to patients. OSF HealthCare officials stated that they believe no individual should have to pay for this administrative fee and will not pass the costs on to anyone without insurance.
Individuals will receive a bill for the administrative fee or a notice from their insurance company that the administrative fee is being applied toward their deductible, contact OSF HealthCare at (800) 421-5700.
For the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the OSF HealthCare website.
Contributing to this report was Capitol News Illinois