83,000 J&J shots to come to Illinois this week; seniors can sign up for United Center shots
Illinois is expected to receive 83,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's new COVID-19 vaccine by Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
About 90% of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose, will be distributed to mass vaccination sites around Illinois. The remainder will go to other providers.
Meanwhile, seniors can register for COVID-19 shots at the United Center in Chicago starting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The United Center site opens for limited vaccines March 9 and will be fully operational March 10 with capacity for 6,000 inoculations a day, starting with the Pfizer vaccine through March.
Seniors will be able to exclusively set up appointments at the United Center until 4 p.m. Sunday. At that time, other eligible Illinoisans, including essential workers, police and people with serious medical conditions such as cancer can schedule shots.
To make an appointment, seniors will need to wait until 8:30 a.m. Thursday, then go online to zocdoc.com/vaccine or call (312) 746-4835. Lengthy wait times may occur by phone and residents are advised to try making an online appointment first.
Along with the United Center, the state's list of mass vaccination sites include several suburban locations such as Triton College and the Arlington Heights Health Center, but many seniors have reported they can't get appointments.
"There is a shortage of vaccines and that makes it difficult to offer appointments in many places," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at an event Tuesday.
"The J&J vaccine is really going to add, I think, about 20% (more doses) by the end of March. It will be more widely available as the weeks move on."
The news about Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, approved for use Saturday, comes as the IDPH reported Tuesday that 69 cases of a more infectious strain of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom have been diagnosed in Illinois. The state also has one case of a contagious South African COVID-19 mutation.
"The new Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed for use at mass vaccination sites across the state, so that we are maximizing their capacity and getting as many eligible Illinoisans vaccinated as possible so that we can win the race against the new virus variants and end this pandemic," IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.
International trials have shown Johnson & Johnson's vaccine offers 66% protection overall against COVID-19 infections and 85% protection against severe COVID-19 symptoms. But in U.S. trials, the vaccine provided 72% overall protection, federal reports said.
That's not quite as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that require two doses several weeks apart, but Johnson & Johnson's version is easier to store than the others, which need specialized cold storage.
"The take-home message is that it is a very, very good vaccine," said physician Michael Bauer, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital medical director. "I don't think people should get hung up on numbers, whether it's 66%, 72% or 85%.
"A lot of the data for Johnson & Johnson came out of the United Kingdom and South Africa and other countries where they had these variants, and the numbers really are very, very good. If you look at South Africa, while it may not be quite as effective at preventing getting an infection, it's certainly good at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. There weren't any," Bauer said.
There also have been no reports of serious allergic reactions to the Johnson & Johnson shot.
On Monday, 61,061 more people received COVID-19 shots compared to the seven-day average of 80,416.
The federal government has delivered 3,630,085 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 2,817,892 shots have been administered. So far, 866,132 people -- 6.8% of the state's population -- have been fully vaccinated.
Illinois reported 1,577 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday with 47 more deaths.
Also Tuesday, the Cook County Department of Public Health announced it was increasing capacity at bars, restaurants and event spaces to 50% or 50 people, whichever is less.
Illinois hospitals were treating 1,231 COVID-19 patients Monday night.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 2.4% based on a seven-day average.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,189,416 and 20,583 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.