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In Illinois, the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations has begun, with some health care workers receiving their first round of shots last week.

At the Aperion nursing facility in Forest Park no date has been set for beginning vaccinations of staff and residents. Fred Frankel, media relations for Aperion, said Dec. 18 there was no schedule in place yet for vaccinations at the local facility. The timeline, he said, is being set by the government, and the facility will be notified when it’s their turn for residents and staff to get the shot.

“We’re waiting like everyone else,” Frankel said. “I hope it’s soon,” he added.

Aperion Forest Park has approximately 195 residents and between 175 and 185 staff members, according to Frankel. Vaccinations for staff will be staggered to ensure continuance of care if side effects of the vaccine are experienced.

During a Dec. 16 press briefing, Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) director Dr. Ngozi Ezike discussed the COVID-19 vaccination program, mentioning that long-term care facility employees and residents may begin receiving the vaccine beginning on Dec. 28.

Both health care personnel and long-term care facility residents will be administered COVID-19 vaccines as part of the IDPH’s Phase 1a plan of distribution.

According to the IDPH website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS, to establish a system of distribution to residents and staff of long-term care facilities, such as Aperion Forest Park, 8200 Roosevelt Rd.

But even with the vaccine coming soon, Frankel said he still has a “healthy fear” of what the future will be in healthcare and long-term care facilities like Aperion.

“We won’t be going back to how it was before,” Frankel said, adding that masks will still be worn after vaccinations, for example. For how long? Nobody knows right now.

“The vaccines are a positive thing; don’t get me wrong,” Frankel said. But he wants to make sure focus is kept on being safe even after most people have received the shot.

There will still be, said Frankel, a lot of “wait and see” in terms of how protocols will change, if at all, and on what timeline, post vaccine.