73K more COVID-19 shots given in Illinois as vaccine shipments remain delayed

About 12% of the state’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but only 3.7% have gotten both required shots.

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A COVID-19 vaccine is administered in January at Norwegian American Hospital. Officials are urging more people to get vaccinated and boosted as Omicron arrives.

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered last month at at Loretto Hospital. Almost 2 million shots have been given across the state.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Illinois’ COVID-19 vaccination sites rebounded with their fourth most productive day yet after a weather-related slowdown, but this week’s heavy snowfall is still delaying more shipments of the coveted shots, public health officials said Thursday.

A total of 73,091 doses went into arms statewide Wednesday, following three straight days with around 40,000 shots administered, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

That decline — which hit just days after the state appeared to finally be hitting its stride with a record-high 95,375 shots doled out Feb. 11 — was due to the severe winter weather that forced many vaccination sites to shut down Tuesday, when most of the region was still digging out from under a foot or more of snow.

Wednesday’s shot count raised the state’s rolling average to 61,132 given per day over the past week, but officials say the numbers will likely remain relatively low until shipments from the federal government catch back up to the pace of recent weeks.

“We are in contact with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies to understand the logistical challenges and if there is anything Illinois can do to expedite getting vaccine,” the state’s public health department said in a statement.

The state had only received about 15% of the 365,000 doses promised this week by the feds as of Wednesday.

Despite the delays, Illinois is still in line to receive another 500,000 doses next week, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who called it “frustrating for me as governor to not have enough supply coming into the state.”

“I fight every day to get more vaccines to the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said at a mass vaccination site in downstate Belleville. “We’re on the phone — our [public health department], governor’s office and me personally — to make sure that we’re getting not only our fair share, but also to make sure that we’re getting it in a speedy fashion.

“Obviously, with the latest couple of days of terrible weather across the nation, they’ve had a difficult time actually distributing the vaccine to the states so we’re now starting to see those deliveries come through, but it’s no fault of theirs.”

Almost 2.6 million doses have been shipped to Illinois since mid-December, and nearly 2 million of those have been administered.

But only 472,755 residents have received both required doses so far — just 3.7% of the state population. Overall, about 12% of Illinoisans have gotten at least their first dose.

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Meanwhile, most of Illinois’ key coronavirus metrics remain at the lowest levels seen since July.

The state reported 1,966 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among 67,542 tests, which lowered the seven-day average statewide testing positivity rate to a seven-month low of 2.7%.

And the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dipped below 1,700 for the first time since the beginning of October, with 1,655 beds occupied as of Wednesday night.

But officials also reported 72 more coronavirus deaths, Illinois highest one-day death count in a week, and well above the state’s seven-day average of 41 deaths per day. Still, that fatality rate was topping 100 daily deaths last month.

Forty-four of the latest victims were from the Chicago area, including a Cook County man in his 40s.

The state’s death toll is now up to 20,129 among almost 1.2 million residents who have been infected since last March.

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