Millions of people in the United States have received the COVID-19 vaccination since its release in December 2020. Many received the vaccine in an effort to keep themselves and those around them healthy in the midst of the pandemic. Although the public may have concerns about the rapid development of the vaccine, health experts want to alleviate some of the anxieties. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported over seven million total doses in Illinois so far.
The COVID vaccine was released nearly a year after COVID-19 spread into a pandemic. Prior to COVID, the record time from lab bench to licensed clinical use of a vaccine had been four years for the mumps vaccine.
Lowell Sensintaffar, MD, a family medicine physician at HSHS Medical Group, says that the COVID vaccine was developed in record time, but there were several reasons for this quick turnaround.
“When scientists started work on the COVID vaccine, they did not start at square one January 2020. The technology for mRNA vaccine has been around for more than a decade. mRNA vaccines against influenza, cytomegalovirus, rabies and Zika have already been studied in human subjects,” says Dr. Sensintaffar. “An extensive study on the SARS-CoV-1 virus vaccine (SARS virus) had already been done.”
“Historically, the slow pace of vaccine development was due to financial caution on the part of vaccine developers,” says Dr. Sensintaffar. “They proceed very cautiously until they are certain they have a product that is scientifically, medically and commercially viable.”
The vaccine developers have been very transparent with physicians: “It was very easy to recruit subjects in the midst of a pandemic,” said Dr. Sensintaffar. “Most often, it takes years for enough exposure and disease to occur to determine whether the vaccine works. But during a pandemic, disease incidence is extraordinarily high, and result are known much more rapidly.”
HSHS Medical Group primary care physicians encourage everyone to receive the vaccine when it is available to them. “The results have been absolutely phenomenal. In the words of a New England Journal Medicine editorial: ‘This is a triumph,’” says Dr. Sensintaffar.
How to Schedule a Vaccine with HSHS
COVID-19 vaccinations are available in St. Clair, Madison, or Sangamon counties for anyone 18 years and older who works or lives in Illinois. In Macon County, vaccines are available for community members 18 and older who live or work in Macon County only.
Appointments are required and are scheduled through a free HSHS MyChart account. Visit: https://www.hshs.org/HSHS/Find-a-Vaccine/vaccine-availability to find a vaccine clinic near you or sign up online at https://www.hshsmedicalgroup.org/MyChart
For a COVID vaccine appointment, the public can sign up for our online patient portal called MyChart. It is free and easy to create an HSHS MyChart account:
- Go to www.hshsmyhealthrecord.com
- Login or Create a MyChart account by clicking “Sign Up Now.”
- Under Quick Links, click “COVID-19 Vaccine Link”
- Click “COVID-19 Vaccination” to schedule a FIRST DOSE vaccine appointment.
- Following the FIRST DOSE, you will need to schedule the SECOND DOSE
If appointments are full, please check back as additional days and times will be added based on available vaccine supplies and clinic days. We appreciate the public’s patience during vaccine roll outs. All vaccine clinics are by appointment only. No walk-ins.