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With Potential Vaccine Approval Looming, Pritzker Warns of Long Distribution Process

Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday said getting COVID-19 vaccines distributed to Illinoisans "will not be a quick process." During his daily virus briefing in Chicago, Pritzker continued to urge state residents to practices safety protocols in the meantime.

SPRINGFIELD — Health officials gave an update on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan Friday with potential federal approval anticipated as early as next week.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the state still expects to get 109,000 doses initially to be distributed in the 50 counties with the highest per capita death rates, but it will be several months until there is an adequate number of vaccinations available for the general population.

That means it’s just as important as ever to maintain social distance, wear face coverings, avoid large gatherings and get a flu shot, he and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

The first vaccine that could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Dec. 10 is manufactured by the drug company Pfizer. It requires an initial dose, then another three to four weeks later. Pritzker said the first shipment could arrive in two weeks. Another vaccine from the drug company Moderna could get approval one week following the Pfizer vaccine.

The initial recipients will be health care workers and long-term care residents. Pritzker said 655,000 people in Illinois qualify as frontline health care workers – 162,000 in Chicago and 493,000 outside of Chicago. Approximately 110,000 adults statewide live in congregate care settings, he said.

“This will not be a quick process with the two-dose timeline. No single person will be fully vaccinated, even by Christmas, and it will likely be months before people with low risk factors for COVID-19 see their first dose,” Pritzker said. “But the very fact that we have this timeline is the result of incredible private sector innovation and long standing public investment in scientific research.”

Pritzker said the first shipment, if indeed it includes 109,000 doses, would be divided into 23,000 doses to Chicago and 86,000 to the rest of the state.

The news came as hospitalizations for COVID-19 continued to trend downward, decreasing for the fifth straight day as 5,453 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized. That put about 16.7 percent of all hospital beds in use by COVID-19 patients and left 24.4 percent available statewide.

There were 1,152 intensive care beds in use by COVID-19 patients at the end of Thursday, a decrease of 17 from the day before. That meant approximately 34.7 percent of the state’s ICU beds were in use by COVID-19 patients with 19.5 percent available.

Approximately 69.6 percent of ventilators were available as of Thursday night, with 703 in use by COVID-19 patients, an increase of 10 from the day prior.

The number of available ICU beds per region ranged from 17 in southern Illinois’ Region 5 and 20 in the Springfield area’s Region 3 on the low end to 187 in Region 11, which includes only Chicago.

The state reported another 148 COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the death toll since the pandemic began to 12,974 among 770,088 confirmed or probable cases. More than 10.9 million test results have been reported.

Regional positivity rates ranged from 11.8 percent in Region 3 to 16.8 percent in Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties. The statewide seven-day average case positivity rate was 10.3 percent Friday, the 12th straight day it has hovered between 10.1 and 10.9 percent.

This story will be updated.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Capitol News Illinois

Capitol News Illinois

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit news service operated by the Illinois Press Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Illinois. It is funded by donations from the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The mission of Capitol News Illinois is to provide credible and unbiased coverage of state government. Capitol News Illinois provides year-round, daily coverage of the Legislature, including committee hearings; state agencies and issues; state office holders; and the Illinois Supreme Court and legal matters.

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