Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that state and local health officials are preparing for smaller shipments of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in coming weeks, as federal officials have informed states that the original shipments of the treatment will be roughly cut in half.
Originally, an estimated 8.8 million coronavirus vaccine doses were set to be delivered to cities and states across the U.S., but that estimate has been cut in half for each of the next two weeks, Pritzker said.
“Per the direction of Operation Warp Speed’s General Perna, that estimate was tightened significantly down to 4.3 million doses shipped nationally next week. The following week, originally projected for another 8.8 million, is also now also scheduled to be 4.3 million,” Pritzker said.
As a result, the governor says that the move to cut the shipments in half will likely mean that the state and the city of Chicago will also see their own shipments halved as they begin the process of inoculating health care workers.
Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, say that the shipments of the vaccine will continue, but cautioned that projections on how much of the vaccine that the state can anticipate receiving will continue to fluctuate based on the latest information from the federal government.
As for questions about whether the distribution of the vaccine is on schedule, Pritzker emphasized that the state has worked with the Illinois Hospital Association and other groups on a schedule for the vaccine to be delivered to various areas, but that the four counties in the state that have already received the vaccine were shipped that treatment directly by the federal government.
“(The rollout) has been done in coordination with the Illinois Hospital Association and the local public health departments working with their hospitals,” Pritzker said. “The schedule has been set for some time now, and the deliveries have ensued.”
Ezike said that the vaccine is expected to be delivered to long-term care facilities for administration beginning on Dec. 28. Those vaccines will be administered through a partnership between Walgreens and CVS and the federal government.
Ezike did warn that decreased allocations could impact the rollout to skilled nursing facilities, but said that it is unclear at this time whether that impact will take place.
Chicago received a shipment on Monday as well, one of five local health departments to receive direct shipments independent of the state. The four others include: Cook County Department of Public Health, Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, Madison County Health Department, and St. Clair County Health Department.
Some hospitals, including Loyola University Medical Center in suburban Maywood and Edwards Hospital in suburban Naperville, are still awaiting their first doses of the vaccine to arrive, but Pritzker says that those deliveries remain on schedule.
The Cook County Department of Public Health had also not received its supply of the vaccine, a spokeswoman said Wednesday, anticipating it would arrive Thursday.
Pritzker's office said the first shipment, delivered to the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile, contained approximately 43,000 doses of the vaccine.
Chicago is slated to receive roughly 23,000 doses of the vaccine in the coming days, with more scheduled to arrive after the first wave. Those doses are part of the approximately 109,000 allotted to Illinois in the first round of shipments.