COVID-19 milestone: Vaccines given outnumber cases of the disease

  • Volunteer Christine Miles with the Lake County Health Department helps people getting COVID-19 vaccines at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

      Volunteer Christine Miles with the Lake County Health Department helps people getting COVID-19 vaccines at the Lake County Fairgrounds. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 2/5/2021 7:57 PM

Illinois has hit a one-day record of giving 74,965 COVID-19 shots, and it passed another milestone Friday: More people have had an immunization than have had the disease.

Friday tallies showed 1,231,418 Illinoisans have received COVID-19 vaccine shots compared to 1,141,219 who've had the respiratory disease since the pandemic began here a year ago.


The news comes as many remain frustrated over lack of access to the vaccine.

"There isn't enough vaccine being delivered to us by the manufacturers that are providing it right now," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday after touring a vaccination site in Rockford. "It will be weeks before all of those who are eligible will be able to get it."

Pritzker noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month will review Johnson & Johnson's new COVID-19 vaccine. Trials have shown it offers 66% protection overall against COVID-19 infections and 85% protection against severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently in use that require two doses weeks apart, Johnson & Johnson's is a one-dose vaccine. "I hope that we'll see this third vaccine in the pipeline not too many weeks from now," Pritzker said.

Illinois' one-day high for COVID-19 vaccine doses came on Thursday after two days that each had more than 60,000 vaccines administered.

On a per capita basis, Illinois is 44th in the U.S. for putting shots into arms, with 9,299 doses per 100,000 people administered, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

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Asked about the ranking, Pritzker said Illinois is sixth in the U.S. in sheer numbers of shots given, and with the record announced Friday, "no doubt we're rising in the rankings."

California is the top state for giving shots with 3,723,803 vaccinations, but it ranks 42nd in per capita inoculations with 9,424 per 100,000 people.

Illinois has received 2,132,025 doses of vaccine since distribution began in mid-December, the state Department of Public Health reported.

Only a fraction of the state's residents -- 2.4% -- have gotten the two doses required to be fully vaccinated.

Illinois began inoculating health care workers and long-term care patients, Phase 1A, in December.

One bottleneck in the distribution has been long-term care facilities, where vaccination is being handled by pharmacies.

CVS spokesman Charlie Rice-Minoso said Thursday that 81% of people in Illinois' skilled nursing homes "have received their second dose. And more than half of our assisted living facility partners in Illinois have received their first dose at vaccination clinics."


Despite the forward momentum, trying to secure a vaccination is frustrating for many people 65 and older who are in the second wave of inoculations, Phase 1B, along with essential workers like police and teachers.

"Like many of my relatives (and) neighbors who search daily for appointments, our searches typically end with 'No appointments available,'" a woman in her 70s from the Cook County suburbs said in an email, adding she is registered at three hospitals and Walgreens in her quest to be vaccinated.

Many essential workers are still waiting for shots, but instead of going it alone have the advantage of their employers and unions organizing logistics.

Two mass vaccinations Feb. 12 and 15 should inoculate the majority of educators at Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300, said Michael Williamson, teachers union president.

Those dates aren't hand-picked by the district, he noted. Instead, the health department calls and "says, 'We have this many doses on this day. Can you use it?'" So far, despite a few sore arms, teachers who've received shots are "excited," Williamson said.

New cases of COVID-19 totaled 3,660 Friday and 83 more people died, compared to the daily average of 85 fatalities since Jan. 1. A total of 19,526 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Illinois hospitals were treating 2,318 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday night compared to the average of 3,241 a day since Jan. 1.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.3% based on a seven-day average, the lowest it's been since Oct. 4. Labs processed 105,085 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

With Super Bowl Sunday imminent, the IDPH is advising residents to avoid parties. "Gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest way to celebrate the Super Bowl this year," officials said on Twitter.

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