Southern Seven Health Department recognizing the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccines administered in the region last week.

On Dec. 17, 2020, frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities were able to get their first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine after it was delivered to southern Illinois the day before.

“It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, our phone lines at Southern Seven were jammed with people wanting to find out how they could get their chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Nathan Ryder, the department’s community outreach coordinator for the COVID-19 response team. “Now, we have three different vaccines, readily available and in plenty of supply to meet the demand. What a difference a year makes.”

More than 56,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the Southern Seven region. Ryder said that number was achieved “thanks in part to the hard work and partnerships with Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois National Guard and countless community-based businesses and organizations who helped distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines. Numerous other organizations were gracious enough to open their doors to host vaccine clinics all across our seven-county region.”

“This has been the biggest public health crisis in our lifetime,” said Teresa Wilburn, Southern Seven’s director of Nursing. “It is truly remarkable how so many people and organizations have come together to offer individuals in the S7 region an opportunity to protect themselves against severe illness and potentially death from COVID-19.”

While the beginning stages of the COVID-19 vaccination effort were limited to just frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, the vaccines are now available to a much broader group — children ages 5 and up are now able to get their COVID-19 vaccines and anyone 16 years and older can now get a COVID-19 booster shot to improve their protection against the virus.

More than 24,000 individuals in the Southern Seven region are considered to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That is just about 35% of our total population.

“ Southern Seven continues working with community partners in outreach and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines in hopes of continuing to bring those vaccination numbers up,” Wilburn said.

Statewide, 71% of all Illinoisans have received at least one dose, 63% are fully vaccinated and more than 30% have received a booster dose according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Individuals can schedule a vaccine appointment with Southern Seven by calling 618-634-2297 or visiting www.vaccines.gov . Organizations wanting to host a clinic in their community can apply online at https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccinationclinics.html.

The entire Southern Seven region — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties — returned to the Orange Warning Level status on Dec. 10.

As of Tuesday, Massac County has had 2514 cumulative COVID cases since the pandemic began in the region in April 2020. Of those, 2377 have recovered and 83 are active. There have been 54 deaths reported in Massac County, two of those from Dec. 8-21 — a female in her 60s and a male in his 60s.

From Dec. 8-21, Southern Seven reported 147 new cases of COVID in Massac County — 14 in less than 10-years-old; 13 teenagers; 17 in their 20s; 16 in their 30s; 22 in their 40s; 22 in their 50s; 24 in their 60s; 11 in their 70s; and eight in their 80s or above.

As of Tuesday, 11,715 Massac Countians have received the vaccine since it became available in December 2020. Of that number, 5025 have been fully vaccinated — meaning 35.69% of the county’s population has been fully vaccinated.

From Dec. 8-21, Southern Seven reported 618 new cases of COVID and 567 recoveries in the region. There have been 12,034 cumulative cases in the Southern Seven region since the pandemic began in the region in April 2020. The Southern Seven region has had 184 deaths since the pandemic began. A total of 24,939 variant cases have been reported in the state through Tuesday.

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