Applause erupted as doctors and nurses received COVID-19 shots in Chicago
and Peoria Tuesday, a positive step after months of a seemingly uncontainable
pandemic that has caused more than 14,500 deaths in Illinois alone.
"This is something we've been talking about and preparing for
a very long time," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner
Allison Arwady said minutes before vaccinations started at Loretto Hospital.
Vaccinations for health care workers could begin Wednesday at Northwest
Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. "We are hopeful," a
spokeswoman said. Some other suburban hospitals were shifting plans toward
Thursday as they awaited deliveries of Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine.
"Folks are excited. We've been playing defense for the last 10
months. Now we have a chance to play offense," said physician Richard
Freeman, regional chief clinical officer for Loyola University Medical
Center in Maywood.
The vaccine's arrival in Illinois is a race against the disease responsible
for 7,359 new cases and 117 more deaths across the state that were announced Tuesday.
As of Monday night, 4,965 patients were in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved Friday by the Federal Drug Administration
with 43,000 doses arriving in Illinois Monday for storage at a state facility.
With images of health care workers getting shots in New York City, some
local hospitals had expected to receive vaccines Tuesday while others
indicated they were awaiting word from the state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker noted that large cities are receiving vaccines directly
through the federal government, as will Cook and Lake counties. The state
is distributing vaccines to 10 "hub" hospitals across Illinois
to store, and in most cases county health departments will distribute
"This is a complex logistics operation to get to all 102 counties,
the 96 public health departments and all the hospitals in their jurisdictions,"
Pritzker said. Vaccine deliveries also require Illinois State Police or
local law enforcement as escorts, he said.
Loyola University Medical Center is a hub hospital that will hold vaccines
for others like Edward Hospital in Naperville. Doses are expected to arrive
Wednesday and staff members will be inoculated Thursday, Freeman said.
Officials weren't sure if the doses would arrive frozen and require
time to thaw, and they also need to schedule around staff work schedules.
There have been some conflicting messages and subsequent clarifications
between all the state and local entities coordinating delivery, but "everyone's
doing the best they can and we're almost there," Freeman said.
"You always want it quicker and faster and better communications.
But we're going from zero to 100 mph."
Another hub, Northshore-Highland Park Hospital, reported Tuesday it was
coordinating with five different public health departments.
"At this time, we have learned that our receipt of the vaccine is
delayed," public relations manager Carolyn Starks said. "Our
overarching goal is to administer a vaccine program that is safe, timely
and effective. We are in regular contact with our public health colleagues
and please appreciate that these processes and distribution systems are
Pritzker said there were no delays and that certain hospitals that had
scheduled vaccine press events had jumped the gun.
"There are no deliveries scheduled for any of them today," he
said Tuesday. "(But) I feel confident over the next 24, 48 and 72
hours, you will see vaccines pushed into people's arms all across
the state of Illinois."
He added that federal approval is expected soon for a second vaccine by
Moderna Inc. that could arrive in Illinois next week.
Some hospital systems like Northwestern Medicine have locations in Chicago
and the suburbs, including Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.
"As of Tuesday morning, our health system had not yet received our
allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine," spokesman Chris King said. "We
do anticipate receiving shipments at our hospitals soon. Our plan is to
begin vaccinations to our workforce by midweek, and this will occur at
a number of Northwestern Medicine hospitals concurrently."
Inoculating the entire state will take months, but "today is the beginning
of the process that will allow us to move toward reopening the state entirely,"
Health care workers will be prioritized first for shots, followed by long-term
care facility residents. Next will be essential workers and people with
underlying medical conditions.
The case positivity rate for COVID-19 cases continued a decline at 8.6%
based on a seven-day average. That number is calculated by dividing the
number of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed by the total tests processed.
Statewide, 14,509 Illinoisans have died of the virus and 863,477 cases
have been recorded.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike encouraged all
Illinoisans to get a vaccine when it's available.
"Our ability to create a safe and effective vaccine in a quicker time
frame grows with every passing year," she said. Strains of another
coronavirus vaccine developed for H1N1 are included in annual flu shots, she said.
Ezike warned against myths circulating about the vaccine, clarifying it
does not cause infertility or result in someone getting the virus. "I
want to emphasis the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain live virus," she said.