Less than 5% of Illinois residents fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as state prepares to expand eligibility

People 16 and up with underlying health conditions will be able to sign up for shots beginning Thursday at most Illinois sites — but not in Chicago or suburban Cook County.

SHARE Less than 5% of Illinois residents fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as state prepares to expand eligibility
A COVID-19 vaccine is administered Tuesday at Pacific Garden Mission.

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered Tuesday at Pacific Garden Mission.

Mengshin Lin/Sun-Times

Nearly 56,000 more COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across Illinois, public health officials announced Wednesday, pushing the state’s overall shot tally past 2.3 million as more people become eligible to receive it later this week.

Still, with the latest 55,947 shots given Tuesday, only 619,480 residents across the state have received both required doses — about 4.9% of the population — and supply remains scarce, especially after heavy snow delayed shipments from the federal government last week.

Despite that, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is moving ahead with expanding Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination program Thursday, meaning people 16 and up with underlying health conditions can sign up to get a shot. That includes people with diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other “co-morbidities,” according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

But that won’t be the case at sites in Chicago or suburban Cook County, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have said they won’t expand the pool of recipients when there’s nowhere near enough supply to cover the currently eligible essential workers and elderly people as it is.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

The state is averaging 58,141 daily shots administered over the past week — down from a pre-snowstorm high of more than 66,000 — but Pritzker said he expects that number to bounce back as production and shipment ramps up.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (center) speaks Wednesday at a West Peoria vaccination site.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (center) speaks Wednesday at a West Peoria vaccination site.

State of Illinois livestream

“Based on public commitments from the White House and from vaccine manufacturers as of today, Illinois expects to receive an average of at least 100,000 doses per day by mid-March, meaning that we’re getting closer and closer to widespread availability that we all want,” Pritzker said at a vaccination site in West Peoria. The state had about 262,000 doses in inventory as of Tuesday night.

“I encourage all of our local public health departments, especially those not yet on pace for the expansion, to move as quickly as possible to broaden our reach in light of ever increasing federal supply,” he said.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 transmission rates have fallen to their lowest points since the pandemic hit last spring.

New COVID-19 cases by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

Officials reported 2,022 new cases were diagnosed among 82,976 tests, sending the average statewide testing positivity rate down to 2.6%. It hasn’t been lower since early July. Chicago’s regional rate has sunk to an all-time low of 3.1%.

Coronavirus hospitalizations are back to summer lows as well, with 1,511 beds occupied across the state as of Tuesday night.

But the virus claimed an additional 44 lives, which is about average compared to the state’s grim daily fatality rate over the past week. Twenty-four of the latest victims were from the Chicago area.

The Illinois death toll is up to 20,374 from among nearly 1.2 million residents who have tested positive since last March.

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