Maj. Gen. Richard R. Neely (right), adjutant general of the State of Illinois National Guard, talks with Shawnee Community College president Dr. Tim Taylor during a COVID-19 vaccination site visit on March 25.

Effective immediately, Southern Seven Health Department has opened up COVID-19 vaccinations to any adult 18-years old and up.

Opening up vaccinations to the general public comes at a time when COVID-19 vaccine supplies are strong, waitlists for individuals in priority groups in the Southern Seven region have been exhausted and worrisome signs of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations begins to spread.

“There are other, more populated areas of the state that are still working to vaccinate folks in priority groups 1A, 1B, and 1B+,” said Nathan Ryder, outreach coordinator for Southern Seven’s Contact Tracing Team. “Thanks to a steady increase in vaccine supplies in our seven county region lately and the help from our National Guard team members, we’ve been able to get everyone on our waitlists vaccinated. We have plenty of vaccine available to start providing those shots to any adult who would like to get one.”

Southern Seven continues to accept walk-ins at its COVID-19 vaccine clinics spread throughout the region. The walk-in vaccinations are limited to the first 100 people based on available vaccine supplies for that day. Walk-ins are accepted from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To guarantee a vaccine dose on a given day, people can schedule themselves for a vaccine appointment using the IDPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registration system online at

“We are beginning to see worrisome trends of COVID-19 case numbers on the rise in other areas of Illinois and in neighboring states,” Ryder said. “Even more troubling is that Illinois Department of Public Health is beginning to see the more contagious B117 variant spreading throughout the state. Now is the time for us to get as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as physically possible. Just two weeks after your first vaccination you can have a great amount of immunity built up to help you fight a COVID-19 infection.”

Vaccines are provided only to Illinois residents and/or individuals with proof of employment in Illinois. At the current time, S7HD will be vaccinating only adults 18-years old and up.

Teens ages 16-17 years old are also eligible to receive a vaccine but currently only the Pfizer vaccine is licensed to be administered for that age group. Because of the extreme cold storage requirements and the relatively short shelf-life, Southern Seven currently does not offer the Pfizer vaccine at any of its mass vaccination clinics. They have started a waitlist for parents with teens 16-17 years old to gauge when and where they should host a clinic for that younger age group. Parents or guardians can add their teen to that waitlist by calling Southern Seven at 618-634-2297 and select Option 5.

For questions regarding COVID-19 or vaccine clinic locations, contact Southern Seven at 618-634-2297 or visit them on Facebook or online at

Neely conducts COVID-19 vaccination site visit on SCC campusULLIN — The Shawnee Community College helipad is used occasionally by medical personnel when significant medical intervention is needed quickly.

However, it was a military helicopter that landed on the campus in Ullin on March 25.

Maj. Gen. Richard R. Neely, adjutant general of the State of Illinois National Guard, along with several staff members, were in Ullin to do a site visit for the Southern Seven Health Department’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort being held on the campus.

“The support Southern Seven has received from the Illinois National Guard has been a major benefit to the residents spread across our seven counties — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, and Union,” said Nathan Ryder, outreach coordinator for Southern Seven’s Contact Tracing Team. “When we are located so far away from our state’s government officials, getting the opportunity for our staff to meet with the commander of the Illinois National Guard and show our ongoing vaccination efforts face to face is invaluable.”

As the state’s 40th adjutant general, Neely serves as the director of the Illinois Department of Military Affairs. He is responsible for carrying out Illinois National Guard missions in supporting emergency relief efforts, including the current vaccination mission across the state. As the commander of the Illinois National Guard, Neely is responsible for the training, preparation and deployment of soldiers and airmen in support of combat operations worldwide. He oversees approximately 13,000 military members, 2,200 full-time military/federal employees and 230 civilian state employees.

During his SCC visit, Neely checked in with guard members, visited with Southern Seven medical staff, spoke with residents receiving vaccines and college leaders about the vaccination mission’s progress.

“We were honored to have Maj. Gen. Neely here today,” said Rob Betts, SCC director of communications. “We are grateful for the continued efforts to vaccinate members of our community.”

Massac County numbers continue to decreaseAccording to statistics from Southern Seven, Massac County reported two new cases of COVID from March 24-30.

These cases were one person in their 40s and one in their 60s.

Of the 1,301 total cases of COVID in Massac County since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,266 people have recovered. As of Tuesday, there were three active cases. The county has had 32 deaths attributed to the disease since August 2020.

Regionally, Southern Seven reports 22 new cases over the past week with 30 recovered. There have been 6,641 cumulative cases and 97 deaths since the pandemic began.

Since the COVID vaccine first arrived on Dec. 16, 2020, 4,506 vaccines have been administered in Massac County with 1,436 being fully vaccinated through Tuesday. Southern Seven vaccination numbers are reported weekly — on Friday, 21,375 doses had been administered in the seven-county region since the vaccine first arrived in December.

As of Tuesday, according to IDPH, there were 2,404 new individuals with COVID-19 identified in the state, bringing the confirmed total to 1,241,993 individuals with 21,273 deaths.

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