SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker received the coronavirus vaccine Wednesday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds state-sponsored vaccination site.
Pritzker was jabbed with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a news conference with State Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield) and retired Illinois National Guard Brig. Gen. Alicia Tate-Nadaeu, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
Pritzker told reporters he was eligible for the shot as a government worker and signed up for the dose at the fairgrounds because happened to be in town for a state legislative session. Last month, the governor added state lawmakers into the Phase 1b vaccine priority group, but he and his family had not yet been vaccinated, he said.
“I’m deeply, deeply grateful that so many of our residents have embraced this life-saving protection,” Pritzker said. “But I also want Illinoisans to know, especially those who may not yet feel confident enough to get vaccinated, that I’m not asking you to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.”
The governor expressed support for the idea of requiring “vaccine passports,” mobile apps that display a person’s COVID-19 immunization status, to permit entry to events.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s your choice,” Pritzker said. “As long as it’s your choice, and if people ask you to show that for a particular venue, a private venue, they have the ability and right to do that. You don’t have to show that to them. You don’t have to go to that venue or be engaged in that activity either.”
Israel has become the first country to widely implement such technology, establishing a “green pass” last month, although China and Russia last year used similar authorization codes to limit access to those who had tested negative for coronavirus.
“I do like the idea, though, that everybody will have with them easily on their device — most people carry their devices with them — some way to show that they’ve been vaccinated,” the governor said.
Turner urged everyone in the state with the ability to get vaccinated to do so. Appointments are available at the fairgrounds through the Sangamon Department of Public Health for any qualifying Illinois residents by calling 217-210-8801, or scheduling a jab online.
“It’s literally three clicks and then you have an appointment. It really is as easy as 1,2,3,” Turner said.
“I have been vaccinated, my husband has been vaccinated, as well as my sister, brother and my son, who is a high school basketball coach,” the state senator said. “Do it for yourself, do it for your family, and most of all do it for your community. I’m challenging everyone to be an example for your family and friends to follow by getting vaccinated.”
According to Tate-Nadeau, more than 1,400 National Guard personnel have been deployed as part of the state’s vaccination efforts. Nearly 500 of them are working as part of 15 mobile vaccination support teams, helping local health departments increase accessibility and reach underserved communities. Guardsmen have been responsible for administering more than 10 percent of the approximately 5 million doses that have gone into arms in Illinois, she said.
“We currently have 14 sites that we refer to as mass vaccination sites, and they are open to all eligible Illinoisans, regardless of your ZIP code, regardless of your immigration status, and regardless of your ability to pay for health care insurance, the vaccine is free and available to you,” Tate-Nadeau said.
“If you have received this safe and effective vaccine, please talk to your friends and family about how friendly and efficient it was, and the process here at the state mass [vaccination] sites,” the emergency management director asked.
Even as supplies increase and the state continues its 100,000-jab-a-day average, Pritzker warned there is a long way to go before the state approaches herd immunity, and the spread of new variants may slow the reopening plan he announced last week.
As of Wednesday, the rate of new infections and trend of new hospital admissions for COVID-like illnesses would not allow the state to advance to the Bridge to Phase 4 step of reopening, even if 70 percent of senior citizens had been jabbed. The number of those over 65 to receive at least one dose stood at 66 percent.
“I’ve been to this movie before, and seen the rising positivity rates, and I’m concerned about it,” Pritzker said. “I’ve been saying all along even as we’ve addressed the mitigations and tried to lower mitigations here or there, I’ve said we’ve got to be careful about the variants. And I am concerned, I must tell you, as I see numbers go up. Is that the variants? Is that a blip in the data? What is it exactly?”
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March 24, 2021 at 01:39PM