Illinois gearing up for phase one of its coronavirus vaccine plan, and several area residents who participated in clinical trials for the treatment are hoping that the pandemic that has gripped the nation for nine months could be nearing its end.
The state is currently slated to receive approximately 109,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine when the drug is approved by the FDA in coming days. Of those doses, approximately 23,000 are expected to come directly to Chicago, welcome news to those in the city that participated in clinical trials.
One of those patients is Thomas Day, an adjunct lecturer at the University of Chicago. The Army veteran participated in the Moderna vaccine trial, and while he doesn’t know if he received the actual vaccine or a placebo, he felt compelled to do his part to help end the pandemic by participating in the trial.
“It seems like such a small thing that I could do to help them out and to make sure that we’re beating this as soon as we can,” he said.
He got his first dose of the trial in October, and says that other than a slight fever he felt no ill effects from the treatment.
“How I’m feeling now is important,” he said. “I feel great.”
Bonnie Blue, 68, joined Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday to discuss her experiences in the Moderna trial.
“My body is fragile. That’s what I’ve been told by doctors,” she said. “I have to do what I have to do. We all have to until these vaccines are widely available to us all.”
Dr. Alfredo Mena Lora, an infectious disease specialist at St. Anthony Hospital, is “elated” about the number of vaccines potentially getting ready to hit the market, and says that state health officials and local hospital leaders are looking to work hand-in-hand to ensure a smooth rollout of the treatments.
“I’m part of a group of clinicians working on how we are going to deploy that for our health care workers,” Mena Lora said. “The other facilities are doing that as well, working closely with the city of Chicago and developing tentative plans for when they’re made available.”
State health officials say that each county will come up with its own plans for the vaccine, but says that the availability will likely be widespread, with companies like CVS and Walgreens working hand-in-hand with officials. Mass vaccination events are also potentially on the table at colleges, convention centers, or even in drive-thru formats, officials say.
State officials say they expect to receive their first doses of the vaccine by next week.