Experts expect coronavirus vaccinations to begin within days, and Illinois is looking for shipments to arrive as early as next week.
What happens next?
It will be months before there’s widespread inoculation in Illinois, but Illinois’ first vaccine shipment should be 109,000 doses, enough for 54,500 people because the Pfizer product requires two shots three weeks apart. The federal government calls for hospital health care and support staff to be first in line, along with nursing home residents. That so-called Phase 1a includes 764,000 people.
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The shipments will arrive at 10 “regional hub” hospitals across the state and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, state public health director, confirmed that health staff at the hubs will be among the first to be inoculated.
Chicago will receive 23,000 doses, and 86,000 will be distributed around the rest of the state based on counties with the highest death rates.
When announced last week, that left in doubt the eligibility of staff at three hub hospitals not among the top 50 hardest hit. That would mean staff members in some cases distributing vaccine to counties that have no hospitals and whose COVID-19 patients the hub centers treat.
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Asked Thursday, Ezike confirmed that as many as eight of the top 50 counties don’t have hospitals and that officials in them have agreed to share the vaccines with the hub facilities or the hospitals responsible for treating their COVID patients.
Regional leaders across Illinois are starting to develop their own distribution plans for the general public.
Information about other counties and regions will be added to this article when it’s available.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot outlined Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan Wednesday pending the FDA’s review of the vaccine. If Pfizer’s vaccine gets approved, Lightfoot said the city could begin administering it at 34 hospitals in the city the week of Dec. 14.
Week two of the rollout will begin the process of immunizing residents and staff at the city’s 128 long-term care facilities. From there, based on federal guidance, it would likely expand to other essential workers, people 65 and over and others with multiple chronic health conditions.
There are about 400,000 health workers in Chicago, including doctors, nurses and staff. The city plans to open up vaccination clinics for healthcare workers, operating by appointment only.
“We’re going to be doing a massive communications and messaging campaign to let people know essentially when they’re next up in the queue,” Lightfoot said.
The city says its goal is to have all adult Chicagoans vaccinated in 2021 at no cost to individuals. CDPH said thousands of vaccine providers will be ready as more vaccines become available.
The locations include doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals and federally-qualified health centers and will be available on the Vaccine Finder website.
Suburban Cook County:
The Cook County Department of Public Health said it is expecting as many as 28,000 doses in its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We have an allocation plan with amounts for each of the 15 hospitals in the Cook County Health system, but the final allotments are still being refined,” said Rachel Rubin, MD, with Cook County Department of Public Health.
DuPage County is finalizing plans for drive-up vaccination facilities located throughout the county.
“We are looking at setting up the sites and in the final stages of setting up these sites so they are geographically distributed across the county,” said DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala.
The DuPage County Health Department has identified partners that can store the vaccine when they receive it, and are waiting on more cold storage devices.
DuPage is waiting on just 13,000 vaccines, but has 58,000 healthcare workers and other high risk people that need to be vaccinated, according to Ayala.
The general public is expected to receive vaccines later in 2021.
Kendall County has been seeking volunteers to assist in a mass COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Health department has placed application form on its website, kendallhealth.org.
Tens of thousands of people have already registered for the COVID-19 vaccine in Lake County, Illinois.
The portal is called “AllVax” and it lets Lake County residents register for the coronavirus vaccine, receive notifications and schedule their appointments, already sparking 50,000 people to sign up.
Lake County was the first in the state to launch the website, but it likely won’t be the last, as counties track and provide information to their residents.
Lake County expected to receive its first shipment of 6,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine within days once approved. The most at-risk healthcare workers will get them first, then long-term care residents, first responders, essential workers and people with underlying health conditions.
The general public is expected to receive vaccines later in 2021, and the vaccination process will look just like the drive-through testing process.
Will County said it expects to receive 4,960 doses of the vaccine in their first allocation, which is expected to arrive next week.
“This will give us a wonderful start on the first phase of vaccinations,” said Steve Brandy, spokesperson for the Will County Health Department.
Brandy said the first people to be vaccinated in Will County will include health care workers, physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, environmental services, respiratory technicians, dentists, hygienists, long term care staff, assisted living staff, home caregivers, morticians, funeral directors, and coroner staff who are involved with the deceased.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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