Local hospital executives reflect on one year of COVID-19 vaccinations

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — In the one year since the FDA gave emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer, two healthcare systems in central Illinois have given out hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 shots to curb a pandemic that just won’t seem to quit.

OSF HealthCare has distributed 200,000 shots, while UnityPoint Health has given out 50,000 shots.

John Miller, vice president of medical affairs at UnityPoint, said the Delta variant and now the Omicron variant has made things challenging.

"We are seeing our numbers ramp up as most of the country is," he said. "We’re all feeling the stress. We’re all feeling the anguish that this is not over and that we can just kind of go back to living our normal lives." 

Miller said a lot of people have let their guard down. He’s reminding all to stay vigilant and get their boosters.

"There has been a decrease in efficacy of the vaccines over time and so to be fully protected you would definitely want to get a booster shot," he said.

Brian Curtis, vice president for medical specialties at OSF Multi-Specialty Services, said 80-85% of their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

"I would say that [the vaccine] has dramatically changed the landscape of the disease. What we’re seeing now is a pandemic of unvaccinated," he said.

Curtis said the Delta variant is keeping the hospitals full, so he is asking all to do their part.

"I think from our standpoint, you know we’ve stepped forward to care for everyone. And now we just would ask everybody now for themselves to step forward and get vaccinated. That would go a tremendous way of actually slowing down the admissions to the hospital," he said.

More than 73% of adults in Illinois are fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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December 13, 2021 at 09:28PM

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