Some hospitals across the Chicago area are expecting to receive their shipments of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, eager to begin inoculating health care workers as the governor says federal officials have cut shipments in half.
Edward Hospital in Naperville and Edward-Elmhurst Health were notified Tuesday that both locations would receive allotments of 1,950 doses of the vaccine apiece on Thursday. Those shipments arrived at around 6 a.m., while vaccinations are slated to begin at Edward-Elmhurst Health at 2:30 p.m.
A spokeswoman for Loyola University Medical Center in suburban Maywood said Wednesday that the hospital system was told it would not receive its doses of the vaccine until as early as Thursday.
Loyola leadership said its Maywood campus would be the vaccine hub for 10,000 health care workers at three hospitals on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic. Loyola expected to receive 3,000 doses of the vaccine in its first shipment, which will first go to bedside workers, intensive care and emergency room nurses and doctors, followed by testing site employees and outpatient workers.
While some doses have arrived in Chicago - and the first ones were administered on Tuesday - Loyola's shipment falls under the Illinois Department of Public Health's jurisdiction. Loyola's Regional Chief Clinical Officer said the hospital has proper storage facilities for the vaccine, which must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, but the arrival is a matter of transport from the state's facility.
Dr. Richard Freeman said they are staying flexible, noting IDPH has never done anything like this before, but adding that he feels hopeful.
“We’ve been playing defense for the last 10 months and this is a chance to play offense," Freeman said. "So we’re very excited - excited to start this process, then move on."
The first four people to get a dose at Loyola have already been chosen: a doctor, a nurse, a respiratory therapist and a member of the cleaning staff.
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. CCDPH is one of five local health departments to receive direct shipments independent of the state. The four others include: Chicago Department of Public Health, Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, Madison County Health Department, and St. Clair County Health Department.
The vaccine was produced by Pfizer and approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week, with shipments sent across the nation beginning Sunday and the first vaccinations in the country taking place on Monday.
The first shipment of Pfizer's vaccine arrived in Illinois on Monday, with thousands of doses then being processed to go to hospitals across the state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
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.
Pritzker said Wednesday that state and local health officials are preparing for smaller shipments of the coronavirus vaccine than previously anticipated 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.
The first vaccinations in Chicago and in Illinois under the state's jurisdiction took place on Tuesday. Chicago administered the first doses of Pfizer's vaccine to five health care workers in what city officials touted as an "historic" moment at Loretto Hospital on the city's West Side.
The first doses to be administered outside of Chicago were given in Peoria, with Pritzker and Ezike witnessing the event that the governor called "a beginning" for the state.
Chicago and Illinois health officials have long said they would follow federal public health guidelines to first vaccinate health care workers on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic.