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Nearly a quarter of Illinoisans now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — Pritzker suggests third surge ‘beginning’ to end

The state is vaccinating more people per day than ever — at an average clip of 132,810 doses given per day over the past week. That’s roughly three Illinoisans every two seconds.

People line up outside the United Center COVID-19 vaccination site last month.
People line up outside the United Center COVID-19 vaccination site last month.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Illinois public health officials on Wednesday reported 3 million residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while Gov. J.B. Pritzker expressed cautious optimism that the state could be making progress in tamping down its third viral resurgence.

Even with Johnson & Johnson doses put on hold while federal officials investigate a handful of extremely rare blood clots tied to that vaccine, 138,538 Pfizer and Moderna shots went into Illinois arms Tuesday — the state’s eighth most productive inoculation day yet.

About 7.5 million doses have been administered statewide since the rollout started four months ago, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. A total of 3,028,415 residents are fully immunized, which is just shy of 24% of the population.

It took about three months for Illinois to reach its first million fully vaccinated residents, about another three weeks to hit 2 million and then 18 more days to reach the latest mile marker in the historic vaccination effort.

Cook County’s sixth COVID-19 mass vaccination site is scheduled to open Thursday in south suburban Matteson. Nearly 3 million Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated.
Cook County’s sixth COVID-19 mass vaccination site is scheduled to open Thursday in south suburban Matteson. Nearly 3 million Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Right now, the state is vaccinating more people per day than ever — at an average clip of 132,810 doses given per day over the past week.

That’s roughly three Illinoisans getting shots every two seconds.

It all means Illinois is well on its way to reaching 4 million fully vaccinated residents by the end of the month.

But that could be thrown off if the J&J doses that make up about 8% of the state’s vaccine supply are shelved for long. Pritzker said the pause presents a “challenge” for the state, but one that he thinks is a “reasonable” precaution to take.

“I share the desire to act with an abundance of caution. Six people is not an insignificant number, but 7 million people have been injected with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” the governor said at an unrelated news conference in Jackson Park on the South Side.

“I think this goes to show you that the current CDC and FDA are really doing a very good job of surveilling the country to see if there are any challenges that have come from these vaccines, and the fact that they identified six of a certain kind, and they acted upon that, I think is reasonable,” said Pritzker, adding that he feels “great” after receiving the J&J shot himself three weeks ago.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a meeting with residents at City Market in Rockford last year.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a meeting with residents at City Market in Rockford in July.
Scott P. Yates/Rockford Register Star via AP file

The state’s 1,000-plus COVID-19 vaccination sites will be doling out Pfizer or Moderna for the time being, including at a new mass vaccination site launching Thursday in south suburban Matteson.

Pritzker has emphasized getting as many shots in arms as quickly as possible with infection numbers rising statewide for a full month. Illinois’ latest pandemic curve might slowly be flattening, though, the governor said.

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 3,536 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among 88,390 tests to lower the average statewide positivity rate for a second straight day down to 4.2%.

But the state also reported 31 more coronavirus deaths — including those of a Cook County woman in her 20s and another in her 30s — while the 2,076 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Tuesday night was almost double the statewide figure reported a month ago.

“We are seeing upward movement of our cases and hospitalizations, obviously, but we have seen a beginning of — maybe a lessening of the rise of cases,” Pritzker said. “I don’t want to predict anything because this virus is unpredictable, but I think at least in the short term that seems to be good news.”

More than 700 Chicagoans are testing positive for the virus every day — a rate that has increased 16% compared to last week — but Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday her team has “been pleased to see some flattening of that case increase.”

Nearly 1.3 million Illinoisans have tested positive over the last year, and 21,570 of them have died.

For help finding a vaccine appointment, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or call (833) 621-1284.