SPRINGFIELD – The first COVID-19 vaccinations have arrived in Illinois as virus metrics continued to trend in a direction that indicates the spread of the virus is slowing.
Approximately 43,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by the drug company Pfizer were delivered to the state’s Strategic National Stockpile. Chicago also received a direct shipment from the federal government Dec. 14, while health departments in Cook, Lake, Madison and St. Clair counties will receive shipments this week as well, according to the governor’s office.
Together, the shipments account for the roughly 100,000 doses the state was expecting in the initial phase of rollout. Gov. JB Pritzker’s office distributed video of him examining the vaccine shipments and consulting with health professionals at the stockpile site Monday.
“Today marks a momentous occasion – not just this year, but in American history,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Eleven months after scientists the world over first got their hands on the genetic sequence of this virus – and we are seeing the beginning of the end of this pandemic.”
Pritzker’s office said the “vast majority” of doses in this shipment will be delivered from the stockpile to 10 hospitals around the state serving as regional coordinators. Those hospitals will serve as “pick up locations” for local health departments to begin distribution to health care workers in their jurisdictions. The remaining portion will go directly to predetermined local health departments.
The governor’s office said more shipments are expected in the coming weeks.
But while the vaccine will be distributed in a limited supply initially to health care workers and long-term care facility residents, it could still take several months to be distributed to the general population, meaning social distancing, masking and other virus mitigation measures remain important lifesaving precautions.