As the world prepares for the COVID-19 vaccine, plans for vaccine clinics are happening right here in McDonough County!  Here’s some highlights from the latest IDPH vaccine plan.  While this sort of advanced planning can change rapidly (and may be even different by the time you read this!), we hope you’re as excited as we are for this next exciting step in ending COVID-19.

From Pfizer to Your Arm

The COVID-19 vaccine makes quite a journey before it reaches you.  For simplicity’s sake, we’ll go over the process for receiving the Pfizer vaccine, as this is the one that will likely roll out first.  Every part of the transportation process is being carefully planned to ensure that the vaccine remains safe and cold at a whopping -70° Celsius!  Here’s how it’ll go:

  • First, the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) in the freezers needed to keep them cold.  The SNS is a stockpile of vital medications and medical supplies kept in a secure location, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.  You can learn more about that over .
  • There, the vaccine will be inventoried and repackaged to be shipped out to regional centers.  Once ready, IEMA will ship the vaccines out in a secure vehicles, now warmer at ~2° Celsius.  At this point it’s important to get the vaccine to the regional center in a timely manner to prevent too much time at this higher temperature.  The maximum window is about 5 days from thawing to use.
  • Once the vaccine arrives at the regional center, McDonough County Health Department, will pick up their portion of the shipment along with ancillary supplies.  From there, the Health Department will plan how the doses will be distributed to the community.

Who Can Get the Vaccine?

In the long term, everyone who can!  However, a part of the planning process is deciding how to best distribute the vaccine in a way that is logical and equitable.  To facilitate this process, public health experts have created a tiered system that organizes the vaccine allotment by target population.

  • Tier 1a – Healthcare workers and residents of congregate care facilities.  These populations have been hit the hardest and will receive early batches of the vaccine.
  • Tier 1b- Essential Frontline Workers, including First Responders
  • Tier 1c- Individuals with high risk comorbidities and/or those over 65
  • Tier 2- Those with moderate risk due to comorbidities and workers in important industries, ex. teachers and transportation.
  • Tier 3- Young adults 18-30, who may not have high risk for complications but are at high risk for contracting and spreading the virus.  If a pediatric vaccine comes out, children under 18 will also fall in this category.
  • Reaching Tier 4, everyone not yet covered by a previous tier should now get the vaccine

These tiers can change as additional information and research shows a need to prioritize various groups, but the general gist is vaccinating those at high risk for exposure and complications first.


A lot of planning and coordination has gone into getting the vaccine from the manufacturer to the local level.  McDonough County is doing everything it can to make sure the community is ready for the COVID-19 vaccine, and ready to fight this pandemic off one shot at a time.

Stay safe, McDonough County

-McESDA Team