ILLINOIS — As Illinois enters the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination program, many residents of long-term facilities continue to wait for their first dose.
Illinois Department of Public Health data shows about 110,000 shots had been administered as part of a federal program that sends Walgreens and CVS Health pharmacists into long-term care facilities for vaccinations. More 530,000 doses have been allocated to the facilities, meaning just over a fourth have been administered.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the federal government is to blame for its partnership with two pharmacies, Walgreens and CVS Health.
“All the vaccinations that are necessary for that entire group have been taken out already of our allotment, and they sit on shelves because that federal pharmacy partnership is so slow at the job,” Pritzker said.
The governor said on Monday that Illinois is sixth in the nation in terms of the number so doses that have been administered. But a news report compiled by the New York Times based on CDC numbers shows Illinois is 44th in the country in the percentage of the population that has received a first dose at 4.4%.
Federal law doesn’t require nursing homes to obtain written consent for vaccinations, but CVS and Walgreens require to get verbal or written consent from residents or family members. This must be documented on forms supplied by the pharmacies, a process some say is slowing the rate of vaccinations.
The companies give second injections three to four weeks after the first shots. Pharmacists are supposed to visit a third time for anyone who missed the earlier vaccination. It is nearly impossible to track progress at individual nursing homes. Neither CVS nor Walgreens makes public a list of specific places they will visit and when.
The state has announced it expects CVS and Walgreens to have visited all facilities to provide at least the first dose by Feb. 15.
The Center Square – Kevin Bessler
Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.