Reversing course on initial vaccine distribution plans, Illinois' public health director said Friday all of the state's 10 "regional hub" hospitals will receive doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to distribute in week one.
Illinois is looking for shipments to arrive as early as next week, as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants final approval.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the initial delivery of vaccines would be distributed among the 50 counties with the highest death rates per capita.
The governor's announcement left in doubt the eligibility of staff at three hub hospitals not among the top 50 hardest hit. That would mean staff members in some cases distributing vaccine to counties that have no hospitals and whose COVID-19 patients the hub centers treat.
On Thursday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said as many as eight of the top 50 counties don’t have hospitals, and that officials in them have agreed to share the vaccines with the hub facilities or the hospitals responsible for treating their COVID patients.
"We have reached out to every single one of those counties to work on the appropriate reallocation of that vaccine," Ezike said at the time, ”whether it’s to the hospital that those residents of that county would seek their care at or ... to ensure that all the regional hubs get some vaccines.”
Illinois’ first vaccine shipment should be 109,000 doses, enough for 54,500 people because the Pfizer product requires two shots three weeks apart.
Chicago will receive 23,000 doses and 86,000 will be distributed around the rest of the state.