Weather forces drops in suburban vaccine supply; U.K. variant found in DuPage

  • Occupational therapist Lauren Green, of Hometown, winces as she receives the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Oak Street Health nurse Tiffany Pipkins last month at a mass vaccination in Chicago Heights.

    Occupational therapist Lauren Green, of Hometown, winces as she receives the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Oak Street Health nurse Tiffany Pipkins last month at a mass vaccination in Chicago Heights. Jake Griffin | Staff Photographer, Jan. 18

 
 
Updated 2/21/2021 10:30 AM

Illinois averaged more than 40,000 COVID-19 vaccine inoculations a day on Monday and Tuesday.

But that's down by almost 20,000 daily vaccinations from a week ago and almost 9,000 fewer than the state recorded two weeks ago when doses were more scarce, according to state health department figures.

 

Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported Wednesday that 40,380 more Illinois residents and workers received doses.

That brings the number of doses administered statewide to 1,903,942 since the vaccine rollout began more than two months ago.

The fewer vaccinations over the past two days result from the effects severe winter weather has had on the region in recent days. The weather also is hampering delivery of new doses, local health department officials said.

"With very low supply of vaccine on hand, combined with delays in receiving vaccine due to recent winter weather and extreme cold, and an emphasis on administering second doses of vaccine within its timeline, it has prevented us from providing nearly as many doses as we'd like," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior public health medical officer and colead at the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Kane County Health Department officials said they were experiencing something similar with their supply. And so did DuPage County Health Department officials, who also said Wednesday they will join Cook County and Chicago in declining to expand vaccine eligibility to medically vulnerable people younger than age 65.

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That's as DuPage health officials announced the first case of a variant of the virus identified in the United Kingdom that is more contagious and may be more deadly. So far, vaccines appear to protect against the variant.

"Given these emerging variants alongside ongoing vaccination efforts, supply remains the single-greatest challenge in not being able to swiftly vaccinate more people in DuPage County," said Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department. "We, too, are frustrated with the insufficient and unpredictable supply our county is receiving."

Additionally, IDPH officials announced 24 more Illinois residents have died from the virus, bringing the state's death toll to 20,057.

The state reported 1,795 more infections as well, which means 1,166,717 cases of the respiratory disease have been diagnosed since the outset of the pandemic.

Hospitals statewide reported 1,719 patients were being treated for the virus. Of those hospitalized, 375 were in intensive care, according to state health department figures.

The state's seven-day case positivity rate is at 2.8%. Case positivity allows health officials to track the level of infection within a certain population. A seven-day average is used to smooth out any anomalies in the daily reporting of new cases and test results.

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