November 9, 2021

On Thursday, October 28th, local health care officials gathered at the COVID-19 testing and vaccination site at Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora to make the case for vaccination against COVID-19. Those present included Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Director of Public Health; Richard Irvin, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin; Linnea Windel, President & CEO of VNA Health Care; Dr. Sangmesh Jabshetty, Medical Director of VNA Health Care; Dr. Mike Kelleher, chief medical officer, AMITA Mercy Medical Center; and Dr. Steven Lowenthal, chief medical officer, Rush Copley Medical Center. Dr. Ezike herself received a booster shot on Thursday to emphasize the importance of vaccination in preventing the further spread of COVID-19 in the local community. The importance of eligible individuals getting the recently approved boosters and those who are still unvaccinated beginning the vaccination process was stressed.

Windel said VNA Health Care has given more than 65,000 doses of the vaccine so far, and nurses have heard “many, many reasons,” from wanting to make sure families don’t get sick to wanting to attend a loved ones wedding, to get vaccinated.

“The evidence is overwhelming that vaccinations are effective,” she said.

Ezike said statewide, at least 81% of Illinoisans have had at least one shot, and 63% are fully vaccinated. Of the core group – people over age 65, people 18 years old or older with underlying conditions, and people in care facilities, such as nursing homes – almost 80% are vaccinated.

Mayor Irvin pointed out that on Aurora’s East Side, only about 40% are vaccinated, and said the city needs to “evolve our messages” to people to get them to take their shots.