Health care workers, first responders will be first to receive coronavirus vaccine in Illinois

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Health care workers and first responders will be among those who receive a coronavirus vaccine once the drug is approved by federal regulators.

But state officials said it will still be months before a vaccine will be widely distributed in Illinois.

“This vaccine is going to roll out over quite a number of months,” Gov. JB Pritzker said yesterday. “We’re not really going to see, as I understand, a vaccine coming to the general public until perhaps March or April.”

More:See the full state plan here

Three drug manufacturers now say they have developed an effective vaccine to use against COVID-19 and are seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to distribute them. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the state should receive 400,000 doses of the vaccine during the initial distribution after approval is given.

“The first rounds of it will go to health care workers and front line workers, people who are exposed to it potentially on a daily basis, and our citizens in long-term care facilities,” Pritzker said.

Ezike said health care workers includes more than the people administering direct medical care.

“It will include the sanitation engineers and the people who turn the bed over after that COVID patient has left,” Ezike said, adding food service workers to the list. “We are going to make sure they are included in that first phase.”

Pritzker said the state is working on distribution plans for the vaccine.

“One of the big concerns I have is making sure we do this with an equity lens,” Pritzker said. “That includes not only people of color, but rural communities, places that are often left out and left behind.”

Pritzker has said Illinois will not distribute a vaccine until the state verifies that it is safe.

“Illinois will not distribute a vaccine until we have one that is proven safe and effective,” he said.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker walks out with Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike for a news conference on Sept. 21 at the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation in Springfield.

There are other potential complications. The vaccine developed by Pfizer must be stored in extremely low temperatures. The equipment to do that is not widely available, although Ezike said the state has ordered 20 devices that can maintain extremely low temperatures and each of the state’s 11 medical regions will receive them.

There will be no charge for the vaccine itself, but health care providers will be able to charge a small fee to administer the vaccine.

Ezike also said people will not be required to get the vaccine. She said the state will have to figure out how to address those who do not want to be vaccinated.

To achieve herd immunity, 80% of the population needs to receive the vaccine, Ezike said.

“That’s when we think a sufficient portion of the population would be immune to the disease to prevent spread,” she said.

Pritzker said the distribution plan remains flexible and can be modified.

via Peoria Journal Star

November 23, 2020 at 09:16PM

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