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Pushing the needle? Even with dwindling demand, 60% of Illinois residents got at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot

Public health officials say they’ll need to use “innovative strategies” to get more people to roll up their sleeves as vaccine demand falls statewide.

Residents stand in line outside the University of Illinois Mile Square Health Center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in March to register for COVID-19 vaccine doses. Sixty percent of Illinois residents have gotten at least one shot.
Residents stand in line outside the University of Illinois Mile Square Health Center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in March to register for COVID-19 vaccine doses. Sixty percent of Illinois residents have gotten at least one shot.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

More than 60% of Illinois adults have gotten at least one coronavirus vaccine dose so far, public health officials announced Wednesday.

The state crossed that threshold almost five months after the first shot was injected in mid-December. Almost 9.6 million doses have been doled out across Illinois since then, with 4.2 million people now fully vaccinated — nearly a third of the population.

That puts the state well on pace to reach the 70% mark for at least partially vaccinated adults over the next two months, even though vaccine demand is declining, according to officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“As President Biden sets the goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by July 4, 2021, Illinois has administered more doses than the national average and will continue to pursue innovative strategies to encourage all eligible residents to get vaccinated,” officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Those “innovative strategies” are required because the number of people signing up for shots each day has plummeted over the past three weeks.

The state is averaging 71,219 doses administered per day over the past week, the lowest that rate has fallen since the end of February and a 46% decline since it hit an all-time high of nearly 133,000 on April 12.

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Norwegian American Hospital in January.
A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Norwegian American Hospital in January.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

On Wednesday, the state reported its latest 96,415 vaccinations, but that figure includes about 40,000 doses that went uncounted over the weekend due to a national reporting outage among several major pharmacies.

Factoring in those delayed doses, an average of just 49,594 shots have gone into arms dating back to Saturday, though “additional doses could also be added,” officials said.

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.

About 80% of Illinois seniors have gotten at least one shot, which is close to the national average. That rate is only about 67% for Chicagoans who are 65 or older, according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. The city also slightly trails the statewide rate with about 56% of Chicago adults having received at least one dose.

“Our age 65-plus category is still lagging,” Arwady said Tuesday. “If you know anybody over 65 especially, please, please, please, help them get vaccinated.”

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, chats with Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Tuesday morning.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, chats with a seated Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Tuesday morning.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Coronavirus infections rates are declining in Illinois, too.

The state reported 2,410 new cases were diagnosed among 77,670 tests, keeping the average statewide positivity rate at a five-week low of 3.3%.

But the virus killed 30 more residents, including a Lake County woman in her 40s.

More than 1.3 million Illinoisans have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 14 months, and 22,096 of them have died.

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.