CHICAGO (CBS) —More COVID vaccine is headed across the country.
The Trump administration is releasing all available doses. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports those now eligible for the vaccine include older Americans, and those of all ages with health conditions that put them at high risk of getting seriously ill.
Innovative Express Care in Lincoln Park got 300 doses of the COVID vaccine Monday, and right away started giving shots to its employees, who are in category 1A: health care workers.
“That’s really exciting. That’s the best news I’ve had weeks. It was a very joyful time,” said Doctor Rahul Khare, CEO of Innovative Express Care 44.
Soon Doctor Khare and all other medical providers will have much more vaccine, as the federal government releases all available doses, keeping none in reserve, to vaccinate those 65 and over and people of all ages with preexisting conditions.
“Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost, or one more hospital bed occupied,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Officials believe with the federal government’s announcement Tuesday, there will be much more demand for the vaccine now. The U.S. Army general leading the distribution said the doses will be available in more places, including your neighborhood drug store.
Still, meeting the demand for more vaccine, and avoiding long lines, will be an enormous challenge, says Northwestern University’s Hani Mahmassani.
“You want to be able to manage it to where you have enough people on hand at any given time,” said Mahmassani said. “That you’ve able to continually vaccinate, so you’re turning folks around and utilizing the vaccine and the human resources needed to vaccinate people.”
Another hurdle: Letting people know they’re eligible and can schedule a shot. Doctor Khare said Innovative Express Care plans to use patients records and then send out thousands of emails.
“We’re going to use our medical data to pinpoint the patients that qualify and then we’re going to send them a link saying you qualify, this is the password, and we will give that to make appointments,” Khare said.
Doctor Khare also welcomes calls from his patients.
On Monday, Governor Pritzker’s spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh released a statement to CBS 2:
Illinois led the way in expanding the availability of vaccine to those 65 and older in the next phase of vaccine distribution, and the Governor is pleased that the Trump administration followed our approach. The governor has also voiced the need for the federal government to release doses to speed up the pace of vaccinations and is pleased to see the Trump administration follow President-elect Biden’s plan. Gov. Pritzker looks forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure states have the resources to move forward with this unprecedented logistical challenge.
Melaney Arnold of the Illinois Public Health Department sent CBS 2 this statement:
We were excited to hear that the federal government is releasing all available doses of vaccine. This will allow the state to better manage vaccine supplies and help increase vaccination rates. As we prepare to move into Phase 1b, Illinois has been working and will continue to work with local health departments, hospitals, and other health care providers on setting up vaccination sites (POD – Point of Distribution). We are also looking at standing up additional sites and working with pharmacies across the state. The pandemic is constantly evolving and we will continue to be nimble in our response.
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