Cook County Health and Illinois National Guard shepherd District 215 teachers, staff from registration to vaccination

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (February 10, 2021) – Through a unique agreement with Cook County Health, TF South has become a designated vaccination site where District 215 personnel can receive the COVID-19 vaccine—by appointment only. The site is prepared to deliver 400 vaccines per day, ramping up to 1,000 per day if supplies allow.

Both the District 215 School Board and Cook County Health are stressing that TF South is not a public vaccination site. The supply of vaccines is designated for District 215 teachers and staff, many of whom have been unable to get a vaccine even weeks after Illinois entered Phase 1B, despite being considered essential workers.

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Early Monday morning, February 8, members of the Illinois National Guard arrived at TF South to begin setting up the systems to ensure safe, efficient delivery of vaccines for District 215 personnel. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
District 215 Executive Assistant Dominique Newman (left) learned on Monday afternoon that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle would be holding a press conference at TF South. She and TF South Principal Jake Gourley set up the library for the event. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Jalen (left) is a 2018 TF South alumni who is now working in IT for Cook County. When he was assigned to this project, he was able to reconnect with Principal Gourley. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
At a stand-up meeting before the first appointment arrives, members of the Illinois National Guard confirm their plans for the day. “The National Guard’s partnership has really benefited the program,” said a spokesman for Cook County Health. The Guard has been involved at all community vaccination sites. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
People with vaccination appointments begin the process by entering door N-1, where PFC Vargas (left) and Project Manager Jenna Green are ready to check IDs and begin the registration process. “They just needed help with this,” said Vargas, who normally works as an engineer. “We do pretty much whatever needs to be done.” Green works for Cook County Health and is the project manager specifically for high school vaccine rollouts. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Further down the hallway, Specialist Brown (left) and Specialist Paoli man the second checkpoint. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Inside the grand lobby of TF South, Sergeant Magana is one of six people who conduct a basic health interview of registrants. Each of the six stations is equipped with four small flags for communicating with other personnel. The green flag indicates all is well; yellow signals an IT issue; red is a request for a nurse to answer vaccine-related questions; blue indicates a runner is needed to bring additional supplies. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Just beyond the six interview stations are six vaccination stations staffed by medics. Combat Medic Lillianna Domko helps people fill out their vaccination card and then administers the vaccine. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
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After receiving the vaccine, people sit in the waiting area for 15 minutes to make sure they do not experience any side effects. The medics set a timer for each vaccine recipient, and check in on them at minute 15 in order to (1) see how they are feeling, and (2) schedule their follow-up vaccine, which will also be administered at TF South. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Vials of the vaccine are kept refrigerated between 36 and 46 degrees. The temperature is checked hourly and logged, and an industrial generator has been brought to the site in case a power failure should occur. Members of the Illinois National Guard also stay onsite to ensure the vaccine supply is not compromised. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
A separate team of healthcare personnel spend the day thawing, mixing, and drawing doses into syringes, so the medics at the vaccination stations can simply administer the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is being used at the TF South site. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
As vaccinated District 215 personnel, such as TF South Principal Jake Gourley, leave the grand lobby, they have an opportunity for a celebratory selfie. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and several other elected officials at the Wednesday afternoon press conference stressed that TF South is not a public vaccination site. It is the first of several planned Points Of Distribution (POD) designated for specific service industries. District 215 personnel have received an email with a personalized link for setting up a vaccination appointment. Anyone checking in for their appointment is required to show District 215 identification or credentials before receiving the vaccine. Members of the general public who show up hoping for a vaccination will be turned away.

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