HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Rep. Brad Schneider Host COVID-19 Vaccination Roundtable Touting Pediatric Vaccinations in Waukegan

November 9, 2021
Press Release
Waukegan utilized federal funding to bring vaccinations to historically underserved communities


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Above: Nehemiah Ewing (11) receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine surrounded by (left to right) his father and District 60 Board President Brandon Ewing, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Congressman Brad Schneider


WAUKEGAN, Ill. – Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10) today hosted a pediatric vaccination roundtable at Jack Benny Middle School in Waukegan. Parents and health officials shared their work to get Illinois vaccinated and back to work, focusing on their efforts to equitably distribute vaccinations in historically underserved communities. Two students, Nehemiah Ewing and Cyrus Malachi McGinnis, received their vaccinations at the end of the event.


“Every community deserves full access to the pediatric vaccine so that the lives of our children, and therefore our parents, can move closer to normal. In Congress, we created resources through the American Rescue Plan to get shots in arms and communities back to health. Communities like Waukegan have put in the rest of the work to make sure that historically underserved communities kept pace in vaccinations. These efforts are what have helped make Lake County the third-highest vaccinated county in Illinois. I was proud to have HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the Tenth District today to discuss how we can bring Lake County’s equity-driven approach to community health nationwide,” Schneider said.


This is a major milestone in our fight against COVID-19. Nearly 80 percent of the American population ages 12 and up is vaccinated against COVID-19. And now, we have a COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. This means 28 million kids are now eligible to get vaccinated. We are following the data and science, and after a thorough review by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to get millions of children vaccinated. And thanks to their rigorous, comprehensive, and independent review of the data, we know that vaccination of younger children against COVID-19 is safe and effective,” Becerra said.


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Above: Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra host a round table on pediatric vaccinations with health officials, parents and community members in Waukegan.

From left to right: Waukegan Public Schools D60 Board President Brandon Ewing, Schneider, Sec. Becerra, Superintendent Plascencia, Walgreens’ Rina Shah, AACPG Co-Chair Gale Graves, Mano a Mano Executive Director Dulce Ortiz, Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha Jr.


The following community members joined the roundtable: Theresa Plascencia, Superintendent of Waukegan Public Schools D60; Brandon Ewing, Board President, Waukegan Public Schools D60; Mayor Ann Taylor, City of Waukegan; Mark Pfister, Executive Director of Lake County Health Department; Israel Rocha Jr., CEO of Cook County Health; Dulce Ortiz, Mano A Mano, Executive Director; Candace Browdy, Pandemic Health Navigator Program Coordinator – LCHD/CHC ; Luis Castellanos, Community Health Ambassador Lead – LCHD/CHC; Gale Graves, Co-Chair of African American Community Partnership Group (AACPG); Rina Shah, Group Vice President, Pharmacy Operations at Walgreens; and Laura Thebarge, parent of three WPS60 students who will get a COVID-19 pediatric vaccine


Lake County has the third highest vaccination rate in Illinois, with 58.77% of the population fully vaccinated. Lake County Health Department and Waukegan Public Library received funding through the Pandemic Health Navigator grant program to focus on vaccination in under-resourced communities.  Through this program, community health workers organized vaccination clinics and gone door to door in under-vaccinated neighborhoods to educate and vaccinate vulnerable populations. Waukegan Public School District 60 has also played an important role in vaccinating their students, families and staff. WPS District 60 have held several vaccination clinics in partnership with Walgreens.


Congress passed the American Rescue Plan in March 2020, which included $350 billion for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Waukegan received $19.7 million from this fund to support households, small businesses, impacted industries, essential workers, communities hardest-hit by the crisis and support public health expenditures. Through the Illinois Pandemic Health Navigator Program, the Illinois Department of Public Health received $60 million in federal relief to ensure resources were provided to those residents in need through community-based organizations (CBOs), local health departments, and FQHCs. 


With the historic investments in the American Rescue Plan, the Biden Administration and Congress have delivered one of the strongest economies of the last forty years. The economy added 531,000 jobs last month and figures for September and August were also adjusted significantly upward. Unemployment claims have hit a pandemic-era low: down to 4.6%, from 6.3% in January. Wages are up nearly 5% from a year ago. The strong job growth is also reflected in the strong stock market with the Dow above 36,000 for the first time ever.


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Above: Cyrus ‘Malachi’ McGinnis (11) receives their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine surrounded by (left to right) their mother and Superintendent Theresa Plascencia, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Congressman Brad Schneider




For Immediate Release

Tuesday, November 9


Contact: Matt Fried

(202) 941-9386