The Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) launches Illinois Vaccinates Against COVID-19 (I-VAC) to support providers and provider organizations in the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine administration in Illinois.The fight against COVID-19 has entered a more hopeful and productive phase due to the availability and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. Healthcare providers are trusted sources on vaccines, primary care practices and hospitals are essential in continuing the vaccination effort in Illinois.
ICAAP has been awarded a five-million-dollar contract from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to support the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine administration into routine patient care workflows in primary care settings, hospital urgent care centers and upon hospital discharge. The goal of I-VAC is to ensure Illinoisians are being immunized at every opportunity and providers are prepared to immunize all eligible age-groups, which now includes 5- to 11-year-olds. ICAAP’s President, Mary Dobbins, MD, shares, “It’s exciting for ICAAP to be a part of helping to guarantee that all residents of Illinois have equitable, easy access to COVID-19 vaccines. Making these vaccines a part of routine care makes sense and we are ready for this step. We have all been through so much during this pandemic, especially our children. We are pleased to be able to start looking ahead.”
ICAAP will work in partnership with sub-grantees, the Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO)-Chicago at the University of Chicago and the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) to implement this initiative. Founder and Director of ECHO-Chicago, Daniel Johnson, MD, shares his excitement about I-VAC, “ECHO-Chicago has been a leader in the training of medical providers to address COVID-19 and is excited to use that experience and partner with ICAAP and IAFP to support providers in removing barriers and increasing access to COVID-19 vaccination across our great state.” IAFP’s President, Michael A. Hanak, MD, FAAFP, shares, “The IAFP is thrilled to work with ICAAP in combating vaccine misinformation and overcoming barriers to providing the COVID-19 vaccine to our communities.”
I-VAC will include statewide training and implementation assistance to support providers and provider organizations. ICAAP will focus on recruiting providers in areas of the state with low vaccine uptake and high social vulnerability index. Additionally, ICAAP will seek to engage primary care practices with a high proportion of patients enrolled in Medicaid and Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH), hospitals included in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP), and other hospitals that serve a high proportion of patients with no routine source of care.
Through this initiative, providers and provider organizations will gain foundational knowledge and skills related to COVID-19 vaccine administration and distribution. This will include developing a process for identifying unvaccinated patients, how to embed reminders for vaccines, and strategies for overcoming vaccine hesitancy through culturally and linguistically appropriate methods. Additionally, I-VAC will focus on the practical issues of COVID-19 vaccine implementation and provide a forum for providers to engage with their peers around solving real-world barriers. The first cohort of training will begin November 30, 2021. A toolkit will be available for those providers and provider organizations who are not able to participate in trainings.
While historical and exceptional work has been done around COVID-19 mass vaccination efforts, herd immunity has not yet been reached in Illinois. ICAAP looks forward to supporting providers in normalizing COVID-19 vaccines. Providers and provider organizations can sign up at www.illinoisvaccinates.com/.