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Daily COVID-19 vaccinations nosedive across Illinois: ‘We’re doing everything that we can to reach out’

The state’s daily vaccination average has dipped 30% over the last 18 days. “We have people knocking on doors or at least responding to people who’ve said, ‘Hey, I can’t leave my home,’” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Hundreds of union members deemed essential get doses of a COVID-19 vaccine last month at a mass vaccination site run by the Chicago Federation of Labor. Vaccine demand has fallen statewide since then.
Hundreds of union members deemed essential get doses of a COVID-19 vaccine last month at a mass vaccination site run by the Chicago Federation of Labor. Vaccine demand has fallen statewide since then.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Almost a third of all Illinois residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — but the number of people signing up for shots each day has dipped by almost a third over the past three weeks.

Residents were racing to snatch up the coveted shot appointments a month ago, and just as they’ve become readily available statewide, “there are just fewer people that are seeking it out,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday.

The latest challenge in the pandemic of falling vaccine demand is one the governor’s health team anticipated, and now must zero in on to bring the state closer to herd immunity.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks Friday in Centreville, Illinois.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks Friday in Centreville, Illinois.
State of Illinois livestream

“It’s a national trend, as we’ve reached somewhere in the 50-60% range of vaccinations among our 16-plus population,” Pritzker said during a news conference in downstate Centreville, near East St. Louis.

“That isn’t to say that there aren’t people who still desire to get vaccinated, and that there aren’t people who are not showing up to get vaccinated, but would like to be more convenient to them — they don’t have transportation to it, or in some other way they’re prevented.

“We’re doing everything that we can to reach out to all of those folks. We have mobile operations teams that are all over the state going into communities that we’ve had difficulty getting people vaccinated in, or where people have had difficulty. We have people knocking on doors or at least responding to people who’ve said, ‘Hey, I can’t leave my home. I’m homebound and I need someone to give me a vaccine at my home.’ And so we’ve got people going door to door,” Pritzker said.

About 60% of Illinois adults have gotten at least one shot so far, but with the latest 103,717 shots administered Thursday, the state is averaging just 92,747 inoculations per day over the last week.

That’s the lowest the Illinois’ daily shot rate has been since March 8, back when vaccines were in severely short supply — and more than a month before all residents 16 or older were eligible.

The daily vaccination average has nosedived from an all-time high of nearly 133,000 on April 12 — a 30% decline over a span of just 18 days.

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.

“We hope many more people will get vaccinated, we continue to try to get them vaccinated in every way that we possibly can, and we’re going to keep doing it as long as we need to,” Pritzker said.

Despite the dwindling injections, Illinois’ coronavirus infection numbers have kept moving in the right direction.

The state Department of Public Health reported 3,207 new cases were diagnosed among 108,063 tests, lowering the average statewide positivity rate to 3.4%. That’s as low as that number has fallen since the end of March.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are also easing down after a spike in cases last month. Hospitals were treating 2,024 coronavirus patients Thursday night, compared to 2,288 on April 19.

But the virus also claimed 33 more Illinois lives, including a Cook County man in his 40s.

The state’s death toll is up to 21,960, among more than 1.3 million residents who have tested positive since last spring.

For help finding a vaccination appointment in Chicago, visit zocdoc.com or call (312) 746-4835.

For suburban Cook County sites, visit vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or call (833) 308-1988.

To find providers elsewhere, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or call (833) 621-1284.