The average number of coronavirus vaccinations administered each day in Illinois has dropped substantially over the past week as the state reaches a turning point in its effort to get shots into arms.
A daily average of 105,873 COVID-19 shots were administered in Illinois during the week ending Sunday, down from 125,212 a week earlier, a 15% drop.
The decline comes as Chicago-area mass vaccination sites have begun offering shots to walk-ins — a drastic shift from just a few weeks ago when it was still a grueling ordeal for many people to find an appointment.
While easier access to the vaccine is welcome news, it could also be cause for concern, as a little less than 30% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated — a long way from roughly 80% some experts estimate is needed to reach herd immunity.
“We’re in an interim period right now where demand and supply, roughly speaking, have met one another, and supply will soon exceed demand,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday at a news conference in Aurora.
The governor spoke as the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being brought back into play following an 11-day pause over safety concerns. Federal officials gave states the go-ahead to resume the J&J shot on Friday.
The state soon may be at the point where there are enough doses available that people will be able to get a shot at their doctors’ offices, much as they would an annual flu vaccine, Pritzker said.
“We’re not quite there yet,” he said. “We still have more vaccine we need to see coming into the state.”
With a growing supply of vaccine and waning demand, the state’s next major challenge will be convincing people who are hesitant to get vaccinated.
“We’re doing everything we can, certainly, to address first the people who haven’t been vaccinated but have just been a little uncertain and unsure, and then, of course, finally, people who have been all along saying, ‘I’m not going to get vaccinated’ but may see that they have more opportunity available to them or that they’re going to be healthier and stronger if they get it,” Pritzker said.
At his news conference, the governor highlighted a state “pandemic health navigator” program, which has assisted with contact tracing efforts and helped connect people who test positive for the coronavirus with needed services, such as meals and income assistance, during quarantine and isolation.
Now the program, which is operating across the state outside of Cook County, is focusing part of its effort on making sure people know how to get vaccinated.
“While we are on the backside of the pandemic, we are still seeing more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day in Illinois,” state Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “We want to continue to support people who are sickened by the virus to make sure they have the resources they need to overcome their illness.”
An additional 50,512 doses of a coronavirus vaccine were administered Sunday in Illinois Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 8,860,975, public health officials reported.
As of Monday, 52.65% of residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
The number of residents who have been fully vaccinated — receiving both of the required two shots, or Johnson & Johnson’s one shot — reached 3,790,976, or 29.75% of the total population.
Officials reported 2,137 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Friday, resulting from 49,236 tests. The state has averaged 2,710 cases per day over the past week, down from 3,142 a week earlier.
The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 3.5% as of Sunday, down from 4% the prior week.
In addition to recent declines in new cases and the statewide positivity rate, hospitalizations for COVID-19 may also be starting to go down.
As of Sunday night, 2,083 people in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 506 patients in intensive care units and 251 patients on ventilators.
The seven-day average of total hospitalizations is 2,129, decreasing for the third day in a row after previously rising every day for more than a month. The average had fallen as low as 1,125 in mid-March before COVID-19 cases began inching upward again.
While the state has met vaccination requirements in the revised reopening plan Pritzker unveiled last month, the recent third surge of the pandemic has kept capacity limits on businesses and other restrictions in place.
“I’m pleased to say that we’re making progress,” Pritzker said.
Officials also reported 10 additional fatalities, contributing to a statewide death toll of 21,836. The total number of known infections in Illinois since the start of the pandemic reached 1,323,170.
The state on Sunday reported 419 additional cases of the coronavirus variant that was first seen in the United Kingdom, for a total of 1,705.
Officials also reported 157 additional cases of the variant first seen in Brazil, for a total of 524; 179 additional cases of the variant first seen in California, for a total of 285; and seven additional cases of the variant first seen in South Africa, for a total of 28.
A Lombard native, Dan Petrella has written for newspapers from Chicago to Carbondale. Before joining the Tribune in 2017, he was Springfield bureau chief for Lee Enterprises newspapers. He’s also been an editor and reporter at The State Journal-Register in Springfield. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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April 26, 2021 at 05:41PM