Some Suburban Cook County Residents Have Struggled To Find COVID Shots For The Homebound; County Says ‘Modest’ Program Now Up And Running

DOLTON, Ill. (CBS) — With more and more people becoming eligible for the COVID vaccine, we’re asking – what about those who can’t get to a pharmacy or other vaccination sites?

One south suburban woman told CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra she is struggling to find anyone who will bring her homebound brother a shot.

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“It is a scare, daily, to check in and see, is he OK?” said Vernita Echols. “Is everything safe?”

Every day, Echols wonders if this is the day her brother, Clarence, gets sick.

“My brother is disabled. He has been disabled for over 30 years,” Echols said. “As a result of that, he developed gross obesity, which of course adds all kinds of major health problems.”

For that reason, Echols’ brother is homebound. The 68-year-old cannot physically get to a vaccination site, as he told us on a video call.

“Well, I’m trying to get one, because I’ve got two grandkids,” Clarence said.

His sister is desperate for a solution. The City of Chicago has brought shots to the homebound for weeks now, but he lives in Steger.

So Echols she called the Cook County Department of Public Health.

“They said: ‘Well, call back in a few weeks. Right now, we don’t have any programs,’” Echols said. “I reached out to Cook County again, and they said, ‘Well, you should call the Governor’s office,’ so it became a vicious circle.”

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On Wednesday, CBS 2 brought her question to the county.

“We do have a program,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior public health medical officer at the Cook County Department of Public Health. “It’s modest at the moment, because we’re building up providers that are going to be into vaccinate homebound individuals.”

How modest? Just 650 homebound people have received their shots so far.

But that should change.

The county said the state has recently made it easier for home healthcare agencies to apply to be vaccine providers, which would give greater access to those patients.

As for other counties, we found DuPage and Lake counties just started homebound vaccinations this week. Will is working on a start date.

With suburban Cook County now up and running, Echols wants her brother protected.

“I am extraordinarily excited to hear that they are on the radar,” she said, “but at the same time, every day is a risk.”

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If you are in suburban Cook County and need to sign up for the homebound program, call (833) 308-1988 and ask specifically for homebound shots. The county says it will then contact you when your appointment is scheduled.

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