COVID-19 vaccines: Doctors say state is making it too difficult to volunteer during pandemic

ELMHURST, Ill. (WLS) -- Some doctors - retired and working - are complaining they're being made to jump through too many hoops to volunteer their services to help get people vaccinated.

In Skokie, retired obstetrician-gynecologist Edward Linn speaks for many of his colleagues who have faced demands for fingerprints and background checks from county health authorities before being allowed to help with the public health emergency.

The Chicago Medical Society said in a statement: "We view them as unnecessary, especially since our member physicians are licensed through the state of Illinois via the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)."

"Many of these physicians are working," said Linn, who also serves as COVID-19 Task Force co-chair for the Chicago Medical Society. "They are doing procedures, they are taking care of patients and all of a sudden when they want to volunteer and help assist in the vaccination process, they are being asked to all go through the whole process again."

That department in Springfield performs background checks on all physicians before they issue a license, allowing them to practice in all areas of medicine they're qualified for - and typically hospitals don't require extra steps.

"It is very irritating because many of these people, you know, it's a matter of time," Linn said. "They're trying to squeeze this type of volunteerism."

The struggle weighs on nurses in training, who expect to staff the frontlines of vaccine administration as public health authorities ramp up delivery. Elmhurst University has one of the oldest nursing programs in the nation.

"It's challenging, but it's also really exciting," said Dr. Laura Minarich, a professor of nursing. "We train our entire career to be able to do this - to be able to give back, to use our skills to be able to help really put an end to this pandemic."

ABC7 made several attempts to contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. JB Pritzker's office for comment or an advisory on the story, but has not heard back.

That may be logistics - or another indication of the lack of coordination around COVID-19 vaccine administration in Illinois.
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