After another record-setting COVID-19 vaccination day in Illinois, more than 3 million doses have been administered across the state and more than a million residents are now fully inoculated, public health officials announced Friday.
The 131,882 vaccinations performed Thursday topped the state’s previous one-day high of 130,021 on Feb. 25, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The state is now vaccinating an average of more than 83,000 people per day, but the 1,019,685 residents who have been fully vaccinated still only account for 8% of the population.
About a fifth of all residents 16 or older have received at least one shot so far, and about 47% of people 65 or older have gotten a dose, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
A total of 3,125,425 shots have gone into Illinois arms since December.
“That’s great progress, but there’s much more that needs to be done,” Pritzker said at a Far South Side vaccination site. “Even if we had enough doses today for everyone, we know that many people would still choose not to get vaccinated.”
That’s why the state is launching a $10 million public awareness campaign targeting “residents in the hardest-hit communities who are reluctant to take the vaccine,” according to the governor’s office.
The media blitz — which will hit billboards, TV, radio, social media and more — is focused on “the moveable middle” set of residents who are hesitant to get vaccinated but could be persuaded, Pritzker’s office said.
That’s almost half the state, according to one study cited by the governor, and they’re disproportionately young, women, lower income and Black.
“National demand for vaccine is still outpacing supply, but it’s only a matter of time before supply outpaces demand. Vaccine hesitancy is real and misinformation, especially on social media, is rampant, so Illinois is acting proactively to share the message,” Pritzker said.
The ads will feature public health experts and residents who have recovered from the disease. The state will saturate areas “where vaccine uptake is a challenge,” identified by local vaccination rates.
Officials are also pushing the message for seniors to lock up appointments at the mass vaccination site poised to launch Tuesday outside the United Center.
As of Friday morning, more than 30,000 slots had been locked up, with the remainder of about 110,000 appointments set aside for people 65 or older until 4 p.m. Sunday.
If any appointments are left by then, they’ll be open to any Illinois resident 16 and up with a chronic health condition.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 metrics are approaching all-time lows across the state.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,442 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among 103,336 tests, meaning only 1.4% of tests came back positive.
That’s the lowest one-day positivity rate the state has ever reported since COVID-19 surfaced here over a year ago.
Illinois’ seven-day average positivity rate is also hovering near an all-time low of 2.2%, as is the state’s nightly COVID-19 hospitalization rate with 1,166 beds occupied as of Thursday night.
The state also reported 33 more coronavirus deaths, including that of a Cook County man in his 40s. But the average daily death rate of 35 per day has fallen about 38% over the past month.
“It’s a dream. It’s a prayer answered,” Pritzker said. “We don’t want to reverse any of that.”
The Democratic governor has said he won’t fully lift business restrictions in the state until vaccines are widely available, but he teased that his administration could loosen some of its guidelines “over the next few weeks.”
“We’re also very cognizant that we want to make sure that businesses have the opportunity to begin gradually opening, so we’re making changes and adjustments along the way here,” Pritzker said.
Over the past year, 1.2 million Illinois residents have been infected, and 20,700 have died.
To schedule a United Center appointment, visit zocdoc.com/vaccine, or call (312) 746-4835.