Health officials say more COVID-19 vaccines needed throughout Illinois

Health officials say more COVID-19 vaccines needed throughout Illinois

Health officials from around Illinois continue to relay the same message: More doses of COVID-19 vaccines are needed.

Medical spokespersons involved in the vaccination program testified to the Senate Health committee Monday as Illinois continues with Phase 1B Plus.

An average of 102,147 vaccine doses were administered last week in Illinois, bringing the statewide total to just over 4.1 million.

Sue Olenek with the Will County Health Department feels the state is being short-changed by the federal government.

“It boils down to the fact that Illinois as a state is not getting its fair share of vaccine from the federal government,” Olenek said.

Olenek testified that her agency is targeting the hardest-hit demographics for vaccinations, including Black and Brown communities, and men, who she said have a higher death toll than women.

“I call that hardest hit, but they are not getting vaccinated,” Olenek said. “More females are coming in so we are looking at targeting there as well.”

Tonya Andricks, CEO of Crossing Healthcare in Decatur, said the organization is in the same boat as many others around the state.

“We don’t have enough vaccine supply, and if you want the health centers to continue to try to bring equity to the communities that have been hardest hit, we absolutely need a supply that is predictable and reliable,” Andricks said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week predicted that every Illinoisan could be eligible to be vaccinated by the end of April.

Starting this week, additional National Guard mobile operations will begin visiting rural communities with the capacity to deliver up to 1,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine per day. The program begins in Fayette and Shelby counties before expanding to sites in Moultrie and Clay counties later this week.

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