50% of Illinoisans 65+ now have gotten a shot. A new state call center can help the rest.
More than 50% of Illinoisans 65 and older have received vaccinations for COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday, but many seniors are still chasing their first appointment.
That's kept the phone at the Arlington Heights Senior Center busy with individuals calling to vent and seek advice, Manager Tracey Colagrossi said.
For numerous seniors listed with the Cook County Department of Health's vaccine registry, the frustration comes when they get alerts about openings for inoculations at various sites but there are no more appointments left when they try to register, Colagrossi said.
"We're encouraging patience," she said. "I'm just confident we're turning the corner with the Johnson & Johnson (one-dose vaccine) availability we're going to see a different story as more vaccine is distributed."
So far, 1,369,534 people -- 10.75% of the state's population -- have been fully vaccinated.
"I am confident, as we have promised by the federal government, that we would reach 100,000 (vaccinations) per day by the middle of March. We've arrived," Gov. J.B. Pritkzer said during an event at Loretto Hospital in Chicago.
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced plans to increase doses to states, allowing every adult to be eligible for vaccines by May 1. "I am confident that not just by May 1 but maybe a bit earlier we could open up to everyone that's eligible," Pritzker said.
He added that Illinois is receiving more deliveries of Johnson & Johnson's shots than expected.
For residents without internet access or who need assistance online, the state has launched a Vaccine Appointment Call Center open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day at (833) 621-1284. About 500 attendants will take calls and can make appointments when necessary.
On Thursday, 110,570 more people received COVID-19 shots. The seven-day average is now 95,121.
The federal government has delivered 4,916,055 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 3,791,273 shots have been administered.
Among those getting inoculated was Charlie Sikaras of Warrenville. After waiting weeks, he had secured a slot at the United Center in Chicago on March 15 but canceled it after obtaining an appointment Wednesday at the Meijer store on Route 59 in Aurora.
"The personnel at Meijer were very knowledgeable and friendly. The forms were also easy to complete," Sikaras said. And he reported "zero issues with the first dose."
Since Sunday, the state has received 647,680 doses of vaccine or an average of 107,947 a day, which are separate from supplies shipped directly to federal sites like the United Center.
Saturday marks the anniversary of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's order to close schools for in-person learning as COVID-19 escalated in Illinois.
Republican Senate Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods said Friday he had introduced legislation to curb a governor's executive powers. The bill, if passed, would require the legislature to approve renewals of emergency powers after an initial 30-day period.
Pritzker "extended his state of emergency power by delivering executive order after executive order -- a total of 76 times, shutting down our economy and making massive public health decisions without the inclusion of the legislature or the communities we represent," McConchie said.
The state reported 1,763 new COVID-19 cases on Friday with 39 more deaths from the respiratory disease.
Illinois hospitals were treating 1,128 COVID-19 patients Thursday night.
The seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 2.3%.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,206,172 and 20,901 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.
Labs processed 93,913 virus tests in the last 24 hours.