Hopedale Medical Complex is among nine rural critical access hospitals statewide receiving direct COVID-19 vaccine allocations under a new safety net program.
The Tazewell County-based health care system is now receiving a weekly vaccine allocation directly from the federal government under the Safety Net Direct Vaccine Allocation Pilot Program that seeks to boost vaccine access in rural, underserved areas.
Emily Whitson is chief operating officer of Hopedale Medical Complex (HMC).
"Particularly here, we have some very aged patients," Whitson said. "And patients that aren't going to have internet access, and/or they just don't use it. So that makes it even more difficult to make sure that population, which is the most vulnerable, are getting their vaccine."
Whitson said Hopedale Medical Complex has administered its first 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It's considered easier to distribute because, unlike the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, it doesn't require a follow-up second dose weeks after the first one is administered.
"It's a little more logistically-friendly. It's just one and done," said Whitson, adding HMC expects to receive 200 doses per week going forward.
Tazewell County Health Department Administrator Amy Fox said HMC's participation in the program has been in the works for weeks. She said the additional vaccine allocation will greatly benefit the rural population in the region.
"(It) will really be great for that area," Fox said. "They serve a large population of rural residents in southeastern Tazewell County, and into Mason County and McLean County."
The new Hopedale Medical Complex allocation is in addition to those already given regularly to the local health department and area pharmacies.
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