CHAMPAIGN — As you’re out walking in your own neighborhood, do you ever wonder how many of the people who live nearby have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine shot?
With about a third of Champaign County residents now fully vaccinated, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is using some newly mapped data to zero in on the areas where fewer people have yet to get their first shot.
One map identifies several hot spots in Champaign- Urbana in which fewer than 30 percent of the residents have gotten a shot.
Among them are Champaign’s Garden Hills neighborhood and several others north of Bradley Avenue between Lincoln Avenue in Urbana and Mattis Avenue in Champaign; the University of Illinois campus area; and a handful of neighborhoods in east Urbana and around Springfield Avenue in western Champaign.
A separate Champaign County map identifies areas where there have been the lowest to highest proportions of vaccinations to reported COVID-19 cases.
Among those with the lowest proportions of vaccinated residents outside Champaign-Urbana are areas of southern Rantoul, Gifford, Ludlow, Foosland, Sadorus, Royal, Broadlands and southern Tolono.
Doing better, with greater than 60 percent of residents vaccinated, are some neighborhoods in southern and southwest Champaign and south-central Urbana.
The maps were made for the health district by Bill Brown, GIS analyst for the University of Illinois Department of Pathobiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine. They include vaccination data for those who have had at least one dose through April 13, Brown said.
He and health district Deputy Administrator Awais Vaid said it’s the lower vaccination hot spots that the health district wants to target with additional outreach to get more people vaccinated.
Some of them include mobile-home parks in C-U — among them Shadowwood in Champaign, where a vaccination clinic has already been held on site, and Urbana’s Ivanhoe Estates and Woodland Acres, Vaid said.
In some neighborhoods where there are lower numbers of vaccinated residents, there have been both issues of lack of trust and some language barriers among immigrant populations, Vaid said.
In still other instances, vaccine acceptance has been lower in some lower- income Black neighborhoods of C-U, he said.
The health district is working with both immigrant community leaders and church pastors in hope of reaching those harder-to-vaccinate populations, he said.
In some areas of the county, the health district also has to overcome the hurdle of lack of trust in the vaccines in general, Vaid said.
Ludlow Village President Steve Thomas said the health district would be welcome to set up a vaccine clinic in that community — but a more effective way to get more people in and around Ludlow vaccinated would be to set up clinics in the break room of Rantoul Foods, where a large number of Puerto Rican Ludlow residents work.
In the past 18 months, there have been so many Puerto Rican people who have moved to Ludlow to work at that Rantoul plant, he said, “it’s changed the whole landscape” of the community.
“In talking with most of the residents, a lot of them are retired and older, and they’ve been vaccinated,” he said.
But the concentration of three or four families of plant employees living in one house is likely having an impact — as is fear of being deported, Thomas said.
Ludlow police Chief Joe Navarro is bilingual and has had good success communicating with the Puerto Rican residents, Thomas said.
“I learn a lot that way about their culture and way of thinking, and I know he has said there is a big fear of being deported or being sent away,” he said.
Royal Village President Todd Roberts said whatever may be causing a lower vaccination rate in his area, it’s not a lack of access to vaccines.
However, he said, Royal does have a large number of older retired residents who may be afraid to go to C-U due to the pandemic.
“I just think a lot of these people are in their mid- to late 70s. They’ve been home. Everything’s fine,” he said. “They go to the doctor when they have to.”
Keep in mind, too, Roberts said, that Royal has only about 300 people, so looking at percentages can be misleading in that small a community.
Foosland Village President Doug Walker also said he knows there is access to vaccine available and he hasn’t heard anything about resistance to being vaccinated in the community.
“I think most of the people on the village board have been vaccinated,” he said.
But, again, there are many older people living in Foosland, Walker said. Many are lower-income, he said, and “they don’t drive far.”
Vaid said the health district has shared the maps with Carle Health, which has been doing its own outreach in C-U neighborhoods — along with some in Danville and Bloomington — through its mobile health clinic and offering COVID-19 vaccines to patients using that service.
Vaccines through the mobile health clinic are temporarily on hold until the national pause in use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is lifted, according to Carle spokesman Kaleb Miller.