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Bustos Stresses Importance Of COVID-19 Vaccinations During Clinic Tour

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos got a first-hand look at COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Tazewell County on Friday, and she urged citizens to get their shots as soon as possible to bring a quicker end to the pandemic.

“This is within our control as far as wearing masks, keeping your social distance, not getting together in mass numbers, and getting vaccinated,” the Moline Democrat said, adding emphasis to the last item on her list.

“Out of the you know goodness of your heart, think about your community. Think about those people who are working in health care; think about those first responders. They're getting worn out, and we have this within our control to get this in a better place," she said.

During her visit to the Tazewell County Health Department’s Broadway Street vaccination clinic in Pekin, Bustos noted the county will get about $24 million from the American Rescue Plan to aid the vaccination effort.

“We've got money for vaccination sites, we have money for testing and tracing, we have money for – in the case of Illinois – Illinois National Guard members to go out and help where needed,” she said. “So I think the resources are there. I think we have to start (emphasizing) the message about people getting vaccinated.”

Tazewell County Health Department administrator Amy Fox says the resources will allow the county to explore more vaccination opportunities and options, like the recently opened drive-through clinic in Tremont.

“We feel like we're doing pretty well,” said Fox. “We're starting to have more options come available for our staff to serve people. We're also doing some strike teams out to local businesses and organizations.

“We want to give people choice; we want to meet them with their schedule, meet them with their availability, and meet them with their vaccine choice.”

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Credit Joe Deacon / WCBU
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WCBU
Pekin resident Cassandra Clark, left, speaks with U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, right, as she prepares to receive her second dose of COVID-19 vaccine Friday at the Tazewell County Health Department's Broadway Street clinic.

During her tour, Bustos spoke with Pekin resident Cassandra Clark as she was getting her second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Clark told Bustos getting the second shot made her proud and hopeful that the country can get “on the road to recovery and back to normalcy,” and said she was looking forward to finally getting a chance to gather with her family again in time for a cookout coming up in two weeks.

“I asked her what she does for fun, and she said she spends time with her family. You think about this: you're in the middle of this pandemic, and the one thing that she's able to do for fun, she can do it,” said Bustos.

“I think the work that the Tazewell County Health Department and all of the health department workers all over the state of Illinois and all over the country, what they're doing is just critically important. And Cassandra Clark brought it all the life today about why what's going on right here at this community vaccination site is so darn important.”

Fox told Bustos that hesitancy remains a concern, particularly among people 40 and younger.  

“I think there's hesitancy everywhere. I think we try and do our best to educate, to answer questions to make sure, again, that we're giving people choice and meeting them where we can – if they have a shift work, or they only are off on weekends,” said Fox. “But also we know that this is going to be less urgent for some populations, and so that's why we want to have that choice and availability.”

Fox said Tazewell County expects to move past having 30% of residents fully vaccinated at some point this weekend; figures updated by the Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday had the county at 29.7%.  

“Those numbers, every single day, are getting better and better and better,” said Bustos. “But our goal is going to be to get to that so called herd immunity, which is what 70-80-90% of our population. So we've got still a long way to go, and I think that the message is we've got to have people who are willing to get vaccinated so our entire community can get back to normal.”

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