By GRACE BARBIC
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Vaccine operations and eligibility are expanding across the state as Illinois’ seven-day rolling COVID-19 positivity rate dropped below 3 percent on Feb. 15, the lowest it has been since July 21.
While touring an Illinois Department of Human Services vaccination site at the Elgin Mental Health Center last week, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that over the last week, Illinois was the number one state among the top 10 most populous states in the nation for per capita vaccinations.
“And although Illinois is the sixth largest state in the country, we have now administered the fifth most vaccinations among all of the states,” Pritzker said. “Those are things to be very proud of.”
As of last Thursday, a total of 2.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to the state.
Of those, 1.9 million doses have been delivered to health care providers and 456,100 have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership program for long-term care facilities.
As of last week, more than 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Illinois, including 231,814 for long-term care facilities.
The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered in the state is 56,094 doses.
Pritzker’s administration also announced that, by request of the state, three federally resourced Disaster Survivor Assistance teams will be deployed to assist local health departments at county-run vaccination sites in underserved communities with vulnerable populations.
Each of the three teams are made up of eight people from all over the country, and will support county call center operations in making vaccination appointments as well as assisting various organizations with community outreach to seniors and other eligible populations about the availability of the vaccine.
“My administration’s vaccine plan prioritizes equity and accessibility for all Illinois residents and federal resources like the Disaster Survivor Assistance teams will help support community outreach efforts with a keen focus on underserved populations,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Local health departments are on the front lines of this initiative and it is critical that we provide them any and all support they need.”
The last time DSA teams were deployed to Illinois was in 2013, when tornadoes and severe storms devastated areas of the state.
More than 340 new retail pharmacy locations have been added to the list of COVID-19 vaccination sites in the state since Feb. 10, with federal vaccine allocations going directly to some pharmacies.
The new sites include 339 Walgreens stores and four CVS locations. The newly added Walgreens sites will be receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine out of the federal allocation previously reserved exclusively for the Pharmacy Partnership program, instead of from the state’s allotment.
There are now more than 850 vaccination locations open to the public in Illinois. Vaccines are currently being administered by appointment only. Eligibility in Phase 1B has been expanded to include lawmakers and residents of all ages who have comorbidities and underlying conditions. Those eligible can find vaccine information and where to schedule an appointment at coronavirus.illinois.gov.
(Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.)