CHICAGO (CBS) — The new variant of COVID-19 that was first spotted in the U.K. and has now been found in Indiana can easily spread.
That new strain is one reason the state of Illinois wants to vaccinate more people, faster — and Gov. JB Pritzker is asking the incoming Biden administration for more doses.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported there are vaccines in Illinois that are not being used.
The governor said everyone in Illinois should have the vaccine by the end of the year, and he envisions large vaccine sites and perhaps the U.S. Army and National Guard could lead distribution efforts.
Some health care workers are fearful and they are not getting the vaccine. Governor Pritzker doesn’t want the doses wasted, so he’s urging health care providers to give the shots to other essential workers now.
Illinois’ public health director indicated it’s a race against time. Concerns the variance of the coronavirus, first seen in the United Kingdom, is now likely in Illinois, circulating in low numbers. It’s a strain of the virus even more contagious.
“It will be the dominant strain and that will take only a few months,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
With that warning comes a plea for everyone to get vaccinated. Governor Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot are demanding more doses from the federal government.
“We need to get teachers and other essential workers vaccinated and make that available to them as quickly as possible,” Lightfoot said. “But I am discouraged by the fact that we are getting less first doses now than we had at the beginning.”
The CDC vaccine tracker showed so far Illinois has received 892,000 doses and less than half have been used: 331,000.
Last week, CBS 2 reported some health care workers, first in line to get the vaccine, are turning it down. Those people included health workers at Roseland Community Hospital.
On Monday, Governor Pritzker said he’s encouraged health care providers to distribute the vaccine to other essential workers. He said everyone in Illinois who wants a vaccine will have it by the end of the year, if not sooner.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Ezike got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine herself. She said she was getting vaccinated for her family.
“I am taking this vaccine for my husband who gave me the scare of my life when he collapsed at the dinner table in front of me and our children in May. After being rushed to the hospital and learning of his diagnosis, it became intensely personal to never forget that this virus preys on people with pre-existing medical conditions like the one my husband was diagnosed with,” Ezike said.
Ezike’s husband did not have COVID, but he is at higher risk because of his pre-existing medical condition.
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