High demand for COVID-19 shots continues despite Johnson & Johnson setback
Despite the federal government's pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine as authorities study side effects, thousands of residents are eager to sign up for shots, suburban health departments said Thursday.
"Demand still exceeds supply of vaccine," Kane County Health Department public information officer Susan Stack said.
In Will County, "appointments are still filling at all of our sites," health department spokesman Steve Brandy said.
Federal experts are scrutinizing six rare cases of blood clots that occurred in women who received J&J's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine, which caused Illinois on Tuesday to suspend its distribution. The state is continuing to use two-dose vaccines from manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
"We continue to book all our appointment slots and remain hopeful that the increasing vaccine supply we have seen in recent weeks continues," Cook County Health spokeswoman Elizabeth Pedersen said.
Despite fears about increased hesitancy stemming from the J&J developments, demand for vaccination remains high locally.
"Tuesday and Wednesday were our highest vaccine dates yet," Pedersen said, noting all sites are at capacity with more than 13,000 shots administered Tuesday and more than 14,000 Wednesday.
Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister also reported high demand. "Slots are not filling as quickly -- as we believe individuals are shopping for their most convenient option -- but slots are still filling," he said.
Averages for new COVID-19 infections went down for the second day in a row at the same time averages for daily inoculations dipped, Illinois Department of Public Health data showed.
On Wednesday, 129,755 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average for vaccinations is 129,317, a decrease compared to tallies announced Monday through Wednesday, when inoculation averages were in the 132,000-plus range.
"The seven-day average includes the weekend when we typically see lower numbers, and daily numbers do fluctuate," IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.
The latest health metrics come in a week when the state expanded vaccine eligibility to all Illinoisans age 16 and older, which was expected to cause a surge in demand.
New cases of COVID-19 totaled 3,581 Thursday with 40 more deaths from the respiratory disease. The death toll announced Thursday was the highest since March 11, when 55 fatalities were reported. However, deaths are averaging 21 a day in April compared to nearly 26 in March.
Eleven of the deaths reported Thursday were in Cook County, two in DuPage, one in Lake, one in McHenry and four in Will counties. The 21 others were spread among 19 downstate counties.
Fourteen who died were in their 80s, nine in their 90s, seven in their 70s, seven in their 60s, two in their 50s and one in her 40s.
The seven-day average of new cases was 3,331.
Illinois hospitals were treating 2,043 COVID-19 patients Wednesday night, higher than the seven-day average of 1,945.
The federal government has delivered 9,636,355 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 7,612,405 shots had been administered as of midnight Wednesday.
So far, 3,093,820 people -- nearly 25% of Illinois' 12.7 million residents -- have been fully vaccinated. Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses several weeks apart.
The state's seven-day average case positivity rate sits at 4.2%.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,292,515, and 21,609 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.
Labs processed 105,661 virus tests in the last 24 hours.