State records most COVID-19 vaccination doses administered since rollout
Illinois reported its highest tally of COVID-19 vaccine shots in arms -- 53,628 -- on Tuesday, as new cases of the respiratory disease totaled 3,751 and 81 more people died, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Wednesday.
Meanwhile, federal data indicates Illinois ranks in the bottom third of 50 states for the vaccine doses received from the U.S. government and shots administered per capita.
Illinois comes 44th in the nation for inoculating residents against the deadly virus, with 5,824 doses given per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The highest-ranked state is Alaska with 13,417 doses per 100,000 residents. Wisconsin is 46th with 5,463 per 100,000.
But Illinois is also getting fewer vaccines per capita than others.
Illinois ranks 35th in the country in terms of vaccines distributed to it by the federal government, with 12,224 doses per 100,000 people.
Alaska is No. 1 again with 22,271 doses delivered per 100,000. Another Midwestern state, Ohio, is 36th with 12,036 doses per resident. The CDC's data reflects Tuesday numbers.
"We believe that the ramp-up of the number of those getting vaccinated and the vaccines is just beginning," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday at the drive-through vaccination clinic at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake.
On Tuesday, Republican state Sen. Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods said in a Twitter post that "less than half of the doses received have made it into people's arms. This is unacceptable! The governor must accelerate the rollout to save people's lives and livelihoods."
Regarding the remark, Pritzker said a chunk of doses coming into Illinois are handled by the federal government, which is partnering with pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS to inoculate residents of long-term care facilities. Other vaccines are designated as second doses and stored. Both Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.'s vaccines require two doses several weeks apart.
"We're not allowed to dip into those second doses," Pritkzer said. Subtract the long-term care federal program and second doses, and "we're doing quite well as a state in administering of vaccines and putting them into people's arms. Yesterday, we had a record day."
President Joe Biden on Tuesday promised to give governors a three-week forecast on vaccine shipments and increase allocations from 8.6 million doses to 10 million doses weekly. That should alleviate concerns about storing second doses, said Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg.
"Once states have some assurance they're going to get a regular amount of vaccine in a certain quantity, I think they'll be much more ready to administer whatever they have on hand," said Krishnamoorthi, who was appointed Tuesday to serve on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield said that when President Donald Trump's administration left, "more vaccine doses were in freezers than in arms. I am working, together with our elected leaders and health officials across the state, to bring more predictability, additional doses, and resources to ensure Illinois is successful in this public health campaign."
Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield also said "Illinois unquestionably must increase its speed and efficiency in administering vaccines to the general public."
"It is also imperative that the state and its partners do better letting everyone know when to fairly expect their vaccine and how to easily schedule appointments," added Schneider, who is on the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Health.
There is much frustration among people age 65 and older about a lack of information and access to shots.
For example, the Lake County Health Department has been "inundated with calls and emails" from residents seeking help, county spokesman Lee Filas said. As a result, the department will be adding an additional 20 call takers to work the phones, Filas said.
The state on Monday expanded vaccinations from health care workers and long-term care residents to people age 65 and older and essential workers such as teachers, firefighters and transit workers.
Deacon Christopher Weilan of Glenview was one of many getting COVID-19 shots Wednesday at the newly opened Arlington Heights Health Center vaccination site run by Cook County.
"It was just a normal shot. It's not even sore," said Weilan, who visits hospitals and nursing homes and delivers food to the needy as part of his job with the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
"The process was very smooth. The hardest part was getting an appointment," added Weilan, a pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
So far, 159,996 people, or 1.26% of Illinois' population of 12.7 million, have been fully vaccinated. The state's seven-day average of daily vaccines administered is 33,698.
A total of 1,790,350 vaccine doses have been allocated to Illinois, and 773,623 shots have been administered. About 30% of the 1.78 million doses were channeled to the federal long-term care inoculation program that has administered 117,983 shots.
There are 2,931 COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of Tuesday night, reflecting a continuing decline.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases sits at 4.5% based on a seven-day average.
Total virus infections come to 1,112,181 and the death toll from the pandemic in Illinois is 18,964 people.
Labs processed 80,124 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours.
• Daily Herald Staff Writer Brian Hill contributed to this report.