The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association had another meeting with the Governor’s Office yesterday regarding the rollout and distribution of vaccines and would like to share some important information.
The Governor is releasing new information at noon today regarding the vaccine distribution and wanted to let you know that manufacturing is now in Phase 1B along with making you aware of the ICare program at the Illinois Department of Public Health and “closed pods” that larger employers may be able to utilize and self-administer vaccines along with a smaller, but significant, change in distribution.
First, in terms of vaccine distribution, nearly ALL manufacturing will now be contained in Phase 1B. This is a change and follows the recent ACIP recommendations from the federal government that were issued on December 22. The list of entities contained in Phase 1B will now include:
- First Responders
- Food & Agriculture
- US Postal Service
- Public Transit (including train conductors and flight crews)
- Grocery Store Workers
- Correctional Workers and inmates
- Shelters and day-care staff
The current definition of manufacturing that the Governor’s Office is contemplating reads as follows: “Industrial production of goods for distribution to wholesale, retail, or other manufacturers.” This is an attempt to be broad-based and ensure that supply chains are included so as not to create disruptions.
In terms of timing, we are told that Illinois’ move from Phase 1A to Phase 1B could be within “days or weeks.” It all depends on the amount of vaccines received but is more likely to occur toward the end of January.
More importantly is the potential for large employers to enroll in the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange (ICare) program and self-administer vaccines to their employees. Application and approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health is currently taking about two weeks but the approval process will take more time as more companies become aware when the State of Illinois showcases the program.
Some of the requirements include having a medical director and qualified medical providers who can make the vaccinations. Companies can designate if they want to vaccinate only employees, employees and family members, other businesses, etc. These can be employees of the company or contracted individuals (some companies may already contract with certain clinics for example).
In terms of process, vaccines will be provided to local public health departments. These health departments will then provide vaccines to these ICare companies to self-administer. The advantages are simplicity and ease for employees who won’t have to travel to a local pharmacy, hospital, clinic, or FQHC. Employers will be able to schedule their employees for vaccines on site.
If your company is interested in exploring the ICare program, I would encourage you to make application sooner rather than later to get approval.
Finally, the Administration has also made a very quiet, but significant change, in distribution policy. They are adamant that they don’t want individuals to “skip ahead in line” but there have been cases in Illinois and around the nation of spoilage because of vaccine hesitancy where certain individuals do not want the vaccine. Rather than wasting the vaccines, the Administration will now allow health care providers to offer vaccines to the next Phase to avoid spoilage. The IMA is not certain how they plan to educate local public health departments but you should be aware and potentially talk with your local health departments. If your health department has doses that need to be administered, encourage them to call your company.