COVID vaccine

Pritzker Says Illinois Won't Need to Cut First Round of Vaccine Doses in Half

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says Illinois won't be cutting its number of initial vaccine doses in half due to the need for each person to receive two, correcting his remarks from one day earlier.

The governor on Tuesday said the state was expecting more than 100,000 doses, according to early estimations, but that only roughly 50,000 residents would be able to receive those vaccines because each person requires two doses.

On Wednesday, however, Pritzker said that's not actually the case.

Instead, the governor said the state can release all doses to residents because the second dose of the vaccine won't be needed until three or four weeks after the initial dose. By that time, he said, the state will have received additional shipments.

"We will be able to serve more at the same time," Pritzker said.

Those comments were echoed by Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady Tuesday.

Arwady said the city anticipates releasing the entire amount at the start, noting there is "a reserve in place" for those who receive the first dose to get their second dose.

"We are anticipating literally every single week, getting additional allotments," Arwady said. "So our expectation is that that first week, maybe 20-25,000. If, for example, that's the Pfizer vaccine, if the Moderna vaccine is coming along just one week behind that, we would hope to not only be able to receive additional Pfizer vaccine, but be able to receive that first dose of the Moderna vaccine. And there's a federal system that's set up that basically allocates vaccine based on population, but then we have to be able to show that we are using that vaccine appropriately here. We have very good plans that will allow us to continue to scale vaccine at whatever rate it is made available."

The "first mass air shipment" of COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Friday as airlines and pharmaceutical companies continued to prepare for large-scale distribution.

United Airlines carried Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on board a cargo flight from Brussels, Belgium, to O'Hare Airport, according to people familiar with the matter.

United Airlines didn't confirm any details about the flight, but in a statement said, "United Cargo established a COVID Readiness Task Team earlier this summer to help ensure we have the right people, products, services, and partnerships in place to support a vaccine distribution effort on a global scale."

Pfizer is still seeking emergency use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The pharmaceutical giant completed its phase three trial and found the vaccine to be 95% percent.

Pritzker said he believes the shipment was sent to a Pfizer facility near Kenosha, Wisconsin, as the company awaits FDA approval.

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