January 14, 2021
Dear Aging Network:
Imagine the day when we all can stop wearing a mask, or when older Illinoisans can gather indoors at their favorite restaurant again with their grandchildren, friends, and family for a celebratory meal. That day is coming – but only if we all do what needs to be done today to keep ourselves, our families, our communities, and our state healthy and safe.
There is good reason to be hopeful; the long-awaited arrival of a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is coming at last! With the authorization of the vaccines in December, we are reaching a turning point in this pandemic. As we enter this new phase, the Illinois Department on Aging is committed to garnering trust in the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring safety and equity in the vaccine distribution process, and restoring the livelihoods of our older Illinoisans as we work to recover from COVID-19. The time is now for all of us to be All In for Illinois!
It has been a long road, but throughout this pandemic, the Aging Network has always stepped up. Now that the vaccine is becoming available, our work must shift as we enter a new phase in protecting our older Illinoisans. The unfortunate statistic remains that over 88% of the COVID-19 deaths in the State of Illinois have been adults 60 years of age or older. It is imperative that we all make sure that our older Illinoisans understand that they continue to be at risk without the vaccine. As leaders in the Aging Network, we need to be an example for our older Illinoisans, family members, friends, and the community to follow. Getting the word out that the vaccine is safe to our older diverse community will be a difficult task, but at least we can now see a glimmer of light at the end of the long dark tunnel.
This is a rapidly evolving process, but we are committed to keeping you informed of the latest information related to vaccination in Illinois, and encourage you to check IDoA’s COVID-19 Vaccine webpage which has up-to-date information, videos, and helpful links meant to dispel myths and rumors about the vaccine and promote vaccine distribution. Please feel free to share the graphic on the left as well as the information found on our page with our older Illinoisans. We also encourage you to check the IDPH COVID-19 Vaccine website regularly for the most up to date information and guidance.
As we begin to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s no doubt scammers are already scheming, leaving our older Illinoisans as unsuspecting prey. I ask for your help in making sure our older adults know that Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to them. If you come across a COVID-19 vaccine scam, or hear that one of our older adults has been a victim, immediately report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at (800) 386-5438, the Federal Trade Commission, or call (800) MEDICARE. Additionally, some common misconceptions are:
- You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
- You can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine.
- You can’t pay to receive doses of the vaccine in the mail.
Fighting the pandemic brought our Aging Network closer than ever. Perhaps like your teams, we shared moments filled with tears, laughter, fear, relief, sadness, and frustration. It has been the greatest challenge of our lifetimes, and I am appreciative to be traveling this path with all of you while under the bold and compassionate leadership of Governor Pritzker. Let’s remain vigilant in our compliance with face coverings, social distancing, and limits to in-person gatherings as we support today and plan for tomorrow. Please continue to stay safe and be well.