The state of Illinois is "going to ramp down" the number of COVID vaccine doses it orders from the federal government each week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday, with demand for vaccinations falling as more people have gotten their shots.
"Illinois, like the nation as a whole, has reached a point where, by and large, all the people who were immediately eager to get vaccinated, have already been vaccinated," Pritzker said in a news conference Monday announcing a new program to deploy vaccination teams to workplaces and commercial buildings.
"That means instead of facing a shortage, requiring us to conserve every drop of vaccine and demanding patience from everyone who wants to get vaccinated, we now have vaccine available to anyone who wants a shot, whenever they want one. That's why we can now broaden the number and type of locations where people can get vaccinated," he continued.
When asked if the state would be decreasing its orders of vaccine from the federal government, Pritzker said Illinois was "in process right now" to do just that, but would have the option to increase vaccine supply later if needed.
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"We've got quite a number of vaccinations that are available in the state already that are still unused and so we want to make sure that we're working through the inventory that we've got," He said. "We're going to ramp down the number of vaccination, vaccines rather, that we're getting for the state. And we obviously, the federal government has made all of that still available to us, even if we were to say we want 10% or 20% less - those doses are still available to us in the following week."
Pritzker said the shift of decreasing demand was something state health officials had been anticipating and planning around "for some time now."
"We're well aware, you know, we have been - I've talked about it before - we had, you know, an increase of supply and dropping demand that we would get to a point where we had more supply than demand," Pritzker said. "So we've been planning for this for some time now."
"Remember we still have the ability to order, every week, we have the ability to order, I mean literally 800,000, 900,000, a million doses. And so to the extent that we, you know, look forward and see that there's greater demand than we have supply for, we will continue to order," he continued.
Previously in a phased eligibility rollout, Illinois opened COVID vaccinations to all residents ages 16 and up on April 12.
Last week, the state received an allocation of 437,600 doses of vaccine, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health's website. The state has received a total of 12,459,585 doses since vaccinations began in December, officials say, with 9,908,489 of those doses administered.
The 7-day rolling average number of vaccinations has fallen recently, now standing at 73,622, when it was previously above 100,000 for several weeks in a row as demand outpaced supply.
A total of 4,466,081 Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated, equating to roughly 35% of the state's entire population. Officials said last Thursday that the state has vaccinated 60% of all adults and 85% of residents ages 65 and older.
Those figures put Illinois well above the required vaccination metrics to advance from the current Phase 4 of the state's COVID reopening plan into the Bridge Phase. Pritzker announced last week the state will move to the Bridge Phase on Friday after cases and hospitalizations, previously increasing again, had leveled off.
The Bridge Phase will allow for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations during a transitional period between the current guidelines and a full reopening in Phase 5.