CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 3 million Illinois residents are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1B of the state’s inoculation plan, but state and local health officials are preaching patience, saying the vast majority of people who can now get shots will have to wait, perhaps weeks, to get their shots.
Illinoisans who are 65 and older, as well as frontline essential workers — such as first responders, teachers, grocery store employees, manufacturing workers, and more — are among those now eligible to receive the vaccine. State officials have estimated Phase 1B includes a total of 3.2 million people.READ MORE: 'I Feel Relieved': What People Are Saying And Doing After They Get Their COVID Vaccine
Gov. JB Pritzker noted Illinois is expecting to receive approximately 120,000 first doses of the vaccines this week, or enough for less than 5% of those now eligible for a shot in Phase 1B. That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of healthcare workers who were part of Phase 1A of the vaccination plan, but have not yet received an inoculation.
“Every state in the nation is experiencing this same shortage. It’s another example of the Trump administration’s tragic incompetence that they didn’t invoke the Defense Production Act, and didn’t order more vaccine from the manufacturers,” Pritzker said after touring a new mass vaccination site at the Tinley Park Convention Center, which will be staffed in part by members of the Illinois National Guard.
So far, Illinois has received a total of 1,636,775 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 524,050 allotted specifically for long-term care facilities. The state has administered a total of 681,473 doses of the vaccine, with an average of 27,776 doses per day over the past week.
Pritzker said he’s encouraged that President Joe Biden is already taking steps to ramp up vaccine production and distribution nationwide, but he said the vast majority of people who want to get a vaccine during Phase 1B will still have to wait to be able to get one. All vaccinations in Phase 1B will be by appointment only, and people can find vaccination sites and sign up for appointments on the state’s coronavirus website.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said, in the Cook County suburbs alone, more than 600,000 people are eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B, but “At this moment, not just here but across the country, demand is heavily outweighing our supply of vaccines.”
“With this in mind, we’re once again asking for your patience. While current supply does not now meet demand, we’re standing up large-scale sites like this one to ensure that we’re ready as vaccine continues to be distributed,” she said of the mass vaccination site at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
Pritzker said the convention center is just one of seven mass vaccination sites being set up by Illinois National Guard teams in suburban Cook County. Another 25 mass vaccination sites will be set up by National Guard teams statewide over the next few weeks. The governor said the Tinley park site is expected to provide approximately 9,000 vaccinations per week, with capacity for up to 18,000 weekly doses once the federal supply to Illinois increases.READ MORE: First Case Of Brazil Variant Of COVID-19 Confirmed In Illinois
“Widespread vaccination sites will allow us to quickly and efficiently get these life-saving doses to Illinoisans as more federal shipments of vaccine come online,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said the mass vaccination site at the Tinley Park Convention Center will open Tuesday morning.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said people who live or work in Cook County can sign up for appointments at the county’s vaccination website starting at noon Monday. The county also has set up a hotline for people to call to schedule appointments. The number is 833-308-1988, and will be available Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha said appointments in suburban Cook County will only be available when a dose of vaccine is guaranteed to the person who is signing up, to avoid canceling appointments due to lack of vaccine.
“Our problem is to make sure that everyone gets through as quickly and as equitably and as fast as we can, but as appropriate as we can,” he said.
Hundreds of pharmacies statewide also will serve as vaccination sites, as well as local and county public health departments, according to Pritzker.
The governor said the Illinois Department of Public Health also is working with local and county public health agencies to help provide transportation to vaccine appointments for anyone who might not be able to drive themselves to an appointment, particularly in rural areas.MORE NEWS: Feds Seize 65,000 Counterfeit N95 Masks At O'Hare International Airport
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