By the end of the day Monday, 126,211 COVID-19 vaccinations had been given throughout Illinois, as the state began the third week of its mass immunization effort, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.

As of Tuesday, 269,625 doses of vaccine had been delivered to Illinois, not including the share that went directly to the city of Chicago.

This week, 21,450 Pfizer doses and 16,200 Moderna doses were shipped to the city, public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Wednesday virtual question-and-answer session.

Arwady underscored that there is no concern among city health officials that the vaccine inventory will expire before use, given that the vaccines have about a six-month shelf life and are being distributed within days. What will really determine efficient rollout, she said, is more allocation.

“Number one, we are pushing this vaccine out absolutely as soon as we receive it,” Arwady said. “We can certainly be distributing a lot more than that and so I’m really hopeful that as production ramps up, we’ll be able to move this out faster. … I wish there was a way to speed up how quickly the vaccine was getting here, but there’s not.”

As of Sunday, 20,353 Chicago residents have been vaccinated, according to a city dashboard, although that tally does not account for health care employees who work in Chicago and live outside the city. Arwady said more than 95% of the vaccine received by the city has already been administered, leaving fewer than 1,000 Pfizer doses in storage and a little more of that amount in Moderna vaccine.

The daily death toll of people with COVID-19 in Illinois remains stubbornly high, following an aggressive fall resurgence of the virus. Another 178 deaths were reported on Wednesday. The number of deaths reported daily has stayed above 100 for most of December, and Wednesday’s death toll was the highest it’s been since Dec. 18, when the state reported 181 deaths.

Vaccinations in Illinois are currently going to people within the top priority groups, those seen as some of the most likely to be exposed and the most vulnerable, front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, in what’s known as “Phase 1a” of distribution.

Last week, Pritzker reported that more than 100,000 vaccinations had been administered during the first week. The first vaccinations in Illinois were given Dec. 15.

The state’s next allotment of vaccine is expected to be delivered “on a rolling basis” this week and Monday, according to the governor’s office.

Because of the holiday this week, providers need to certify that they are open and able to receive the shipment, the governor’s office said.

The state has set aside 76,050 doses for a federal program being administered through CVS and Walgreens to give the shots in skilled nursing facilities, which is half the amount needed to give the first dose in all skilled nursing facilities in the state outside of Chicago, according to the governor’s office.

The other half will be reserved over the next two weeks, Pritzker’s office said.

The skilled nursing facility vaccinations through the federal program began in Illinois on Monday, and vaccinations at state-run veterans’ homes has also started.

In Chicago, nearly all of the Moderna doses were sent to long-term care facilities, which began vaccination on Monday, while the rest went to outpatient health care workers who also began receiving doses this week, Arwady said. The Pfizer vaccine is primarily going to hospitals.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month issued additional guidance for groups of people to receive priority for vaccinations following the top priority groups that are being vaccinated now.

That guidance suggests that a massive group of people be included in a Phase 1b for distribution, including those aged 75 and older and “front line essential workers,” which includes first responders, correctional workers, transit and postal workers.

The state has yet to release details on how it will prioritize vaccines within that next phase. Pritzker said last week the Illinois Department of Public Health is reviewing those recommendations “in the context of Illinois data,” and that state officials will give more details about Illinois’ future vaccination phases in the new year.

The state on Wednesday reported 7,374 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, raising the statewide total to 955,380 cases throughout the course of the pandemic. There have been 16,357 deaths of people with COVID-19.

The new cases reported Wednesday came out of a batch of 74,573 tests conducted during the previous 24 hours.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 7.6% for the period ending Tuesday, which has ticked up slightly over the past few days. The case positivity rate was 7.5% a week earlier. On Dec. 1, that statewide rate was over 10%.

As of Tuesday night, 4,244 people statewide were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 882 patients in intensive care units and 496 on ventilators.




Copyright © 2020, Chicago Tribune


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