Health officials in Illinois are working on plans to distribute and administer the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, and the state is identifying groups that will be among the first to get the new treatment after it passes through the clinical trial stage.
During a press conference Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker revealed that individuals from “vulnerable populations” will be the first to receive the vaccine when it becomes available, with the state distributing the treatment to local health departments.
“Our framework in Illinois is designed to provide an equitable distribution across the state, with priority access going to our most vulnerable populations,” Pritzker said. “That includes frontline healthcare workers and first responders who directly interact with and treat COVID patients, as well as staff and residents in long-term care facilities.”
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says that the state anticipates that it will take some time for the vaccine to become widely available, saying that it is that potential scarcity of the drug that will make it imperative to ensure that it first goes to first responders and vulnerable populations.
“Vaccinations, once they arrive, will take many, many months at the minimum to actually get into the arms of the people of Illinois,” she said. “This will unfold in phases with initially only a small amount of vaccine available and as production ramps up, more individuals will be able to avail themselves of this countermeasure.”
Ultimately, the goal of Illinois health officials is to inoculate at least 80% of the state’s population, giving residents a CDC-recommended level of “herd immunity” to the virus. That level would allow the state to likely avoid large-scale spread of the virus at a later date, according to Ezike.