COVID-19 vaccines given nearly double in two weeks, but supplies lag

  • About 30 Elmhurst University nursing students and two faculty members took part in an orientation session on Feb. 8 in Wheaton as they prepare to join DuPage County's expanded vaccination efforts.

    About 30 Elmhurst University nursing students and two faculty members took part in an orientation session on Feb. 8 in Wheaton as they prepare to join DuPage County's expanded vaccination efforts. Courtesy of Elmhurst University

  • Out of 2,134,225 COVID-19 vaccine doses sent to the state, 1,417,156 shots had been administered as of Tuesday.

    Out of 2,134,225 COVID-19 vaccine doses sent to the state, 1,417,156 shots had been administered as of Tuesday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/9/2021 7:09 PM

Illinois is improving how quickly it gets lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine shots into arms, but the supply still lags, state data indicated Tuesday.

Out of 2,134,225 doses sent to the state, 1,417,156 shots had been administered as of Tuesday -- a 66% inoculation rate compared to a 43% rate two weeks ago.

 

Tuesday's COVID-19 vaccination tally also represents an 83% increase from the 773,623 shots given as of Jan. 27, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records.

But the number of vaccine shots shipped to the state grew by only 19% in the last two weeks from the 1,790,350 doses Illinois had been allocated as of Jan. 27.

Inadequate supplies of vaccine, long waits for appointments and confusion about how to get inoculated is causing frustration for residents age 65 and older who, along with front-line essential workers, are among the latest group of people eligible.

On Tuesday, DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin blasted the Illinois Department of Public Health for excessive red tape, failing to offer guidance or share information about where doses are going, and providing meager funding to ramp up vaccine distribution locally.

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"We're driving blind," Cronin said at an event in Wheaton attended by U.S. Reps. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, Lauren Underwood of Naperville and Bill Foster of Naperville. "Join us in asking the IDPH to remove the cloak of secrecy, share the data and allow us visibility. Transparency is the hallmark of good government."

DuPage has the highest rate in the metro region of fully vaccinated people, at 2.88%, but that has occurred mainly because of local efforts, Cronin said.

"There's been very little attention, support or resources on this last mile of the vaccination campaign, and it's in that last mile that lives are saved," he said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said the "vaccine allotment communication from the federal government has been unreliable and has made planning difficult. Just last week, the Biden administration pledged to work with states to provide three weeks of consistent estimates, and IDPH will communicate that three-week estimate with local health departments" on Wednesday, she noted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On Monday, 58,189 Illinoisans received COVID-19 shots, compared to the seven-day average of 55,455.

So far, 311,569 people -- or 2.45% of the state's population -- have been fully vaccinated. Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. require two doses several weeks apart.

The DuPage County Health Department is moving its vaccination clinic to the county fairgrounds in Wheaton with capacity to give up to 5,000 shots a week.

When it opens Wednesday, 60 nursing students from Elmhurst University, who graduate in May, will be among those administering vaccines.

The pandemic's grip sent the students home from clinical sites in spring 2020. After a "rocky road ... they've come almost full circle," said Laura Minarich, assistant professor of nursing and health science. Volunteering allows the seniors to see "how the health care collaboration and the scientific research and everything we talk about in nursing has come together to create a vaccine they're even able to administer."

Senior Kaitlyn Kunde said each shot will be "one more person closer to having this come to an end. One more person that's protected." The Westmont 22-year-old contracted COVID-19 in 2020.

"I'm young and healthy, so I recovered quickly," Kunde said. But the experience was draining. "I just wanted to sleep. Not being able to taste was awful. I couldn't even taste popcorn," she recalled.

New Illinois cases of COVID-19 numbered 2,082 Tuesday with 20 more deaths from the respiratory disease. The seven-day average for new cases is 2,750.

Illinois hospitals were treating 2,117 COVID-19 patients as of Monday night, compared to the seven-day average of 2,266.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.3%, based on a seven-day average.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,150,170, and 19,686 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 55,705 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

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