CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois and the city of Chicago received their first shipments of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on Monday, just days after federal regulators authorized the treatment for emergency use.
“Today is a very special day that should instill us all with optimism and hope,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing Monday afternoon.READ MORE: Three Men Shot In Robbery Attempt Outside Garfield Red Line Station
Approximately 43,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were delivered to the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile on Monday. Pritzker said those vaccines will then be delivered to 10 hospitals that will serve as regional distribution centers outside of Chicago, supplying local health departments across the state.
“As we speak, our vaccine distribution teams are putting into action what they have prepared and drilled for over the past several weeks, carefully taking inventory of tens of thousands of vaccines, repackaging the vaccines, and preparing those packages to ship out to our hospital distribution centers tomorrow and Wednesday,” Pritzker said.
The city of Chicago also received its own direct shipment of vaccines on Monday, and the Chicago Department of Public Health said the first vaccines in Chicago will be administered Tuesday morning at Loretto Hospital, a medical facility in the Austin neighborhood, one of the communities hit hardest by the pandemic. A special clinic also has been set up for health care workers at Rush University Medical Center.
Four additional local health departments – in suburban Cook County, Lake County, St. Clair County, and Madison County – will also receive direct shipments from the federal government later this week.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the arrival of the first vaccines in Illinois marks “the beginning of the end of this pandemic, but we are not there yet.”
“There are still many months ahead before we eventually end this pandemic, but we will get there together as soon as we can by all working together,” she added.
Illinois is one of several states that set up its own independent review board to review the CDC recommendations on the Pfizer vaccine. Pritzker said that panel unanimously endorsed the CDC’s recommendations, and is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to update an online FAQ on the vaccine to help ensure the public it is safe and effective.
Among other findings, the CDC has recommended the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans age 16 and over.
Pritzker said, iif you have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines in the past, the CDC has said you can still get the Pfizer vaccine when it’s your turn, but you should discuss the risks first with your doctor. The CDC has not given any special precautions for people with non-vaccine allergies.
The governor also said the CDC has recommended pregnant women consult with their doctor about the risks of taking the vaccine or waiting for more data, as pregnant women weren’t included in Pfizer’s vaccine study, and there isn’t any data yet on how the vaccine might affect pregnant women.READ MORE: Organized Retail Crime Task Force Recovers Millions Of Dollars In Stolen Goods From Chicago Storage Units
Pritzker said the shipments that arrived on Monday account for roughly half of the state’s allocation for the first round of vaccine distribution. The state is expecting a total of about 109,000 doses this week, including 23,000 that will go directly to Chicago.
“In other words, today marks only the beginning of the national vaccination rollout. This week, the very first recipients of the very first phase will receive their first of two doses of this COVID-19 vaccine,” Pritzker said.
Starting next week, with potential FDA approval of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine expected in the next few days, Illinois will begin reserving portions of weekly vaccine shipments for long-term care facilities. Distribution of those vaccines will be handled by the federal government through contracts with CVS and Walgreens, according to Pritzker.
The governor said the state has not yet received an estimate for how many doses of the Moderna vaccine will be shipped to Illinois once it is approved.
Across the next three shipments of vaccines, Pritzker said the federal government has estimated providing enough doses for all skilled nursing facilities that have signed up for the national program. After that, doses for long-term care facilities will go to other congregate care settings such as assisted living facilities.
Illinois officials have said the first shipment of vaccines will be distributed in the 50 counties with the highest death rates. Several of those counties, however, don’t have any hospitals, so officials in those counties have agreed to share their supplies of vaccines with their regional hubs, or with nearby hospitals that treat their virus patients.
“The hospital community stands ready to play a major role in the vaccination process by serving as distribution hubs, and vaccinating at-risk healthcare workers so they can be personally safe, and also available to care for their patients,” Illinois Health and Hospital Association President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi said.
Wilhelmi noted that demand for the vaccine assuredly will far exceed supply for the next few months, and urged people to be patient for their turn to get one.
“The stakes are too high to rush through it,” he said.
Ezike said, while she looks forward to the day the vaccine is widely available to everyone “we still need to continue with our masking, avoiding crowds, watching our distance, and washing our hands. Let’s work to protect and not infect, those that we love and those around us.”
“We have been praying for this day, and preparing for this day for months, and we’re working with our local health departments and our hospitals to get the vaccine into the arms of those who need it most as quickly as possible,” she said.MORE NEWS: Police Search For Parents Of Michigan High School Shooting Suspect After They Are Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter
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