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Monroe County runs ahead of vaccine schedule, begins giving shots to people 85 and older

The vaccinations got underway Monday in a well-orchestrated drive-thru effort at the county fairgrounds

MONROE COUNTY, Ill. — In Illinois, health officials are still in the first phase of vaccine distribution, which includes medical and long-term care workers and residents. Illinois will expand to the next phase, 1B, next week.

But in Monroe County, they’re ahead of schedule.

Beginning Monday, residents 85 and older lined up in their cars and got the COVID-19 vaccine shot. It happened in an orchestrated operation at the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Waterloo.

“Last week, we got 600 doses. We finished up our 1A people. We did some group homes at the end of the week. Then, we went into 1B and limited it to 85-and-above just because we knew we’d have enough vaccine to, hopefully, do that group. Then we’ll slowly move down in age,” explained Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner.

READ MORE: Here's how you can get in line for the COVID-19 vaccine

Alan Coff brought his father, James, who is 96.

“We’ve been waiting for it for about a year, so he’s ready to go,” said Coff. “I can’t get it yet. I’m 75.”

“I think it’s wonderful. I’ve been waiting forever for this shot, and I’m glad it’s the Moderna," Monroe County resident Roger Spurgeon said.

After people got their shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, they were instructed to wait in a parking lot on the premises to make sure they didn’t have an adverse reaction.

“We’re sitting here for 15 minutes to see if we have a reaction, and if not, we’re going home,” said Mary Stephens.

Anna Dunn, who was also waiting in the adverse reaction parking lot said, “I think it’s a great opportunity. It was very well-planned. I saw pictures of what happened in Florida and I was worried, so I think they did a great job here today. We’ve been here not even an hour. In fact, we’ve only been here 30 minutes.”

Wagner said they’re prepared to go round-the-clock if they need to.

“We can do 3,000 doses a day out here in about a 14-hour day. All we need is the vaccine," he explained.

Wagner said county officials get their vaccine allocation on or about Tuesday of each week. As soon as they do, Monroe County officials will determine the age parameters of the next group.