Next phase of vaccinations begins Monday, but state warns shots are still scarce
Gov. J.B Pritkzer said COVID-19 vaccine providers throughout the state can begin inoculating the next group of eligible residents starting Monday, but he warned those eager to get the shot that it could still take weeks because of continuing issues with supplies.
"Starting Monday, the entire state is moving to Phase 1B, as our very limited allotment allows," Pritzker said. "Just know, there will be far greater demand than supply, at least for the short term."
The people eligible for shots in Phase 1B include anyone 65 and over or an essential front-line worker, like public safety employees, teachers and grocery store workers. There are an estimated 3.2 million Illinois residents who qualify under these guidelines, about one-quarter of the state's population.
Meanwhile, state health officials announced Friday that 95 more Illinois residents have died from COVID-19, with another 7,042 new cases diagnosed.
That brings the state's death toll from the respiratory disease to 18,615 since the pandemic began. Additionally, 1,093,375 Illinoisans have now been infected.
Illinois received 21,300 additional doses of the vaccine Friday, according to state records. Some of those might wind up in the arms of people in the second wave of eligible residents, state officials said.
Pritzker said vaccines for those in Phase 1B will be available through county health departments, hospitals and national pharmacy chains.
Walgreens already has a website up and running at walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19 where customers can register for the vaccine based on their eligibility. Pritzker said CVS and Jewel-Osco pharmacies are expected to have operational registration websites soon, as will other pharmacies throughout the state in the coming weeks.
Advocate Aurora Health, which operates dozens of hospitals and clinics throughout the Chicago suburbs, is notifying patients of the vaccine's availability and directing them to register for an appointment through the health system's LiveWell smartphone app. For more information about vaccines through the health system, Advocate patients can visit aah.org/vaccine.
Edward-Elmhurst Health officials said certain targeted patients 65 and older have begun receiving notifications on the health system's "MyChart" program about scheduling vaccinations. The hospital is prioritizing the notifications to the "highest-risk" patients and also alerting former patients who don't have active accounts with the hospital's program.
State officials said 1B-eligible residents should check with their primary care physicians about registering for a vaccine as well.
County by county
As for suburban county health departments, each is doing things a little differently.
In Lake County, the six hospitals will be getting direct shipments of vaccine and will administer it to patients 65 and older, Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said. The county is distributing vaccines to manufacturing businesses in the most affected areas, which will vaccinate employees over 65 as well as their essential workers.
Pfister said the health department expects to begin administering to school district employees in February as well. Eligible residents can register for vaccinations through the county's AllVax portal, allvax.lakecohealth.org.
Pfister and DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala are recommending residents register for the vaccine everywhere they can, be it the health department, pharmacy or their primary care physician's hospital network. People who are vaccinated are supposed to be removed automatically from the registration systems at the other locations, they said.
DuPage County residents can register through the health department's website, dupagehealth.org.
Even with the registration portals in place, it will still likely be weeks before the vaccine is available to most of those eligible in the second wave, many county health officials acknowledge.
"We know about the governor wanting to initiate 1B vaccinations Monday," said Steve Brandy, a Will County Health Department spokesman. "We hope to be into 1b over the next week or two, but we are in the process of finishing up 1A."
Will County residents can register for the vaccine after filling out a survey on the health department's website, willcountyhealth.org.
A Cook County Department of Public Health vaccine registration portal was expected to be operational before Monday, but it still hasn't been introduced.
Kane County Health Department officials said they have begun vaccinating eligible "front-line essential workers" and plan to begin inoculations of residents 65 and older next week.
Information about vaccinations through the Kane County Health Department is available at its website, kanehealth.com, where officials are adding to a list of vaccine providers.
Vaccine enrollment forms for McHenry County residents are available at the county website, mchenrycountyil.gov.
National Guard sites coming
Pritzker also said 25 more vaccination sites staffed by the Illinois National Guard are expected to be operational throughout the state within the next three weeks, though he did not note where those sites will be. Four similar sites were opened earlier this week in suburban Cook County, on the county's west and south sides.
On Friday, 3,179 patients were being treated for COVID-19 in Illinois hospitals, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures. Of those hospitalized, 661 are in intensive care.
The statewide seven-day average case positivity rate is now at 5.3%.
IDPH officials are also now reporting another 44,288 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of vaccine shots given in Illinois to 616,677.
Health officials also announced Friday 128,469 people, a little more than 1% of the state's population, have now been fully vaccinated with both doses of the two-dose vaccine regimen.
• Daily Herald staff writers Susan Sarkauskas, Katlyn Smith and Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.