COVID-19 inoculations rise, but so do tensions over dose distribution

  • As of Wednesday night, Illinois had given 1,977,033 vaccinations since distribution began in mid-December.

    As of Wednesday night, Illinois had given 1,977,033 vaccinations since distribution began in mid-December. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/18/2021 8:22 PM

As Illinois nears 2 million COVID-19 vaccines administered despite weather-related delays, tensions rose among some suburban leaders over the scant supply of doses.

A total of 1,977,033 COVID-19 shots had been given as of Wednesday night, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Thursday. And 73,091 of them were administered on Wednesday, a significant increase from the average of 40,199 inoculations Sunday through Tuesday.

 

The state's progress "is something everyone in Illinois should be proud of," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday.

"That doesn't mean getting an appointment for a vaccine hasn't been a frustrating experience," he added.

The frustration apparently led DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin to convene a media briefing with the chairmen of Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties Thursday to discuss "inadequate allocations" of doses from the state health department -- only to cancel it at the last minute.

No reason was given, and a DuPage County spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

"Over the next few weeks, these counties are due to receive a small fraction of the vaccine needed to protect the health of residents throughout the region," the briefing announcement had stated.

Snowstorms and freezing temperatures have delayed vaccine deliveries, with Illinois receiving just 55,000 doses out of 365,000 allocated to the state so far this week.

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Also last week, the IDPH announced the majority of doses coming to Illinois from the federal government must be reserved for second doses -- probably until March, when supplies increase.

Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses several weeks apart.

Will County Health Department Director of Mass Vaccination Cindy Jackson said in a statement that "unfortunately, we are currently receiving very small allocations of vaccine for first dose appointments over the next three weeks. During that three-week period, we will receive 6,000 to 10,000 doses of vaccine each week that is allocated for second dose appointments only.

"This vaccine shortage has already resulted in our inability to open more vaccination clinics next week."

Pritzker acknowledged there's a national shortfall of vaccines but said the federal government is ramping up shipments.

Regarding the state's distribution plan, he noted "every county -- we look at by population and the request made to IDPH about how many vaccination doses they would like in their county that week. Some counties ask for way more than is appropriate, given their size. Some counties are right on the nose. We have to make some judgment calls along the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"What is most important is the county's ability to put together a site like this and then move people through it with some ease," Pritzker said, speaking after touring a mass vaccination site in downstate Belleville.

So far, the federal government has delivered 2,552,000 doses to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December.

Also, 472,755 people -- 3.71% of the state's population -- have been fully vaccinated. Illinois reported 1,966 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday with 72 more deaths.

Illinois hospitals reported 1,655 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday night.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 2.7% based on a seven-day average.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,168,683, and 20,129 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 67,542 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

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