Chicago Officials to Give Vaccine Update as Shipping Delays Spark Shortages in Illinois

Chicago reported Tuesday that more than 100 providers were left without their expected shipments due to winter weather conditions and Illinois said federal shipping delays could continue through the week

NOTE: Watch the press conference live at 9:45 a.m. in the player above

Chicago's mayor and top public health official are expected to update on the city's vaccine rollout Friday as winter weather in the Midwest causes delays in shipments of the coronavirus vaccine across Illinois, sparking shortages for some counties.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady are set to speak at 9:45 a.m. from the Gage Park Vaccination Center. (Watch live in the player above)

Chicago reported Tuesday that more than 100 providers were left without their expected shipments due to winter weather conditions and Illinois said federal shipping delays could continue through the week.

Already, city-run testing and vaccinations sites were closed Tuesday following a massive snowstorm.

"The inclement weather in the Midwest has also led to a delay of vaccine shipments coming into Chicago over the upcoming days," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a release. While there is currently no estimated time of arrival on the orders, we anticipate daily updates from CDC. All COVID shipments are requested as overnight shipping so we expect vaccine shipments and supply with [sic] catch up quickly."

The latest system blanketed parts of the Chicago area with up to a foot and a half of snow, shuttering schools to in-person classes Tuesday as officials urged residents to stay off the snow-filled roads. Light snow and cold temps have continued in the days following.

Officials noted that deliveries from Chicago's allocation to vaccine providers were also delayed due to the travel impacts from the storm. They urged anyone with appointments at private healthcare centers to contact their providers and check on the status of their appointments.

"Before you travel out in this snow, which it's very hard for people to be getting out of driveways and down the streets right now, make sure that that site is operating. We can control a lot of things but we can't control the weather," Arwady said.

She stressed, however, that vaccine doses currently in Chicago are under proper storage conditions and "will not be wasted."

The federal government said Tuesday that shipping delays are expected across the country, including in Illinois, as winter weather wreaked havoc on several states.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office said "the federal government has notified all states of COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays across the entire country due to adverse weather and road conditions."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed deliveries slated for Tuesday were "significantly impacted" as adverse weather impacted operations at facilities where "vaccines and ancillary supply kits originate." 

The departments warned that delays could continue throughout the week.

"To help offset delayed vaccine deliveries, the state of Illinois proactively ordered vaccine to be delivered to its Strategic National Stockpile Receipt, Store, and Stage site in anticipation of adverse weather," Pritzker's office said in a release. "Illinois is distributing that vaccine to many providers around the state today and tomorrow, as weather permits, to continue to support vaccination operations."

Still, the Illinois Department of Public Health said "weather will most likely contribute to reduced vaccinations over the next several days."

Will County and DuPage County health departments said they will focus on people getting their second vaccine doses.

Will County Public Health Department spokesperson Steve Brandy said only about 55,000 doses of the originally scheduled 365,000 doses will arrive this week.

The shortages come as the state, excluding Cook County and Chicago, is expected to expand its Phase 1B eligibility next week.

“I think it’s particularly unfortunate because we have a very large group of individuals in front of us, even in the original Phase 1B population, who are ready, willing and very able to, to be vaccinated,” said Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.

Both county health departments say they've been told that supply of the vaccine should pick up within three weeks.

A total of 73,091 doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Illinois within 24 hours, health officials said Thursday. That lifted the statewide total number of vaccinations to 1,977,033 doses given thus far, including 266,037 administered at long-term care facilities.

A total of 2,106,800 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, state health officials said, plus 445,200 doses allocated to the federal government’s program for long-term care facilities.

"Weather continues to cause vaccine delivery delays from the federal government," IDPH said in a statement Thursday. "We are in contact with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies to understand the logistical challenges and if there is anything Illinois can do to expedite getting vaccine."

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