State health officials say that while there has been some uncertainty over when Illinois will begin to see the arrival of the first doses of approved coronavirus vaccines, officials are planning to have those treatments in hand as soon as next week.
During his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that he has been told that the vaccine will likely start to arrive during the “week of Dec. 13 to the 19th,” but cautioned that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the federal government, have been giving the state some mixed signals on an exact delivery date.
That being said, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the state is still planning to receive doses of the vaccine during that time frame.
“We are expecting the vaccine next week,” she said. “And we’re expecting vaccine doses to arrive every week thereafter. We may be looking at just Pfizer initially, but then we hope that other vaccines will be coming shortly after that.”
The Food and Drug Administration is currently evaluating emergency use authorizations for several coronavirus vaccines, including treatments produced by Pfizer and Moderna. According to Pritzker, the state is currently expecting to receive approximately 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first shipment, but the number has fluctuated, making it harder for officials to determine the schedule of a roll-out of the drug.
Once those vaccines do begin to come in, Ezike says that the state will pull out all the stops in an “All-In Illinois” effort to make sure that the vaccine is administered as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“People will go to their doctor’s offices. Mass vaccination drives will be held. Some in churches, pharmacies, local health departments,” she said. “There will be myriad opportunities to get the vaccine. We want some drive-thru vaccination efforts too. Those will continue to ramp up as it becomes widely available to the public.”
According to Pritzker, each county has put together its own plan for how the vaccine will be distributed, with the governor pointed out that cities like Chicago and more rural communities will have different strategies in place to ensure that the vaccine is distributed as equitably as possible.
The FDA is expected to give emergency use authorization to some coronavirus vaccines in coming days, with Pfizer and Moderna both seemingly first in line for those authorizations. Illinois health officials have laid out their own plans for the virus, saying that healthcare workers, first responders, and residents and staff of congregant living facilities will be among the first people in the state to have access to the treatments when they are delivered.