Hospital Chief Says Likely Summer Before State Reaches COVID-19 Immunity

ILLINOIS — A COVID-19 vaccine could soon be on its way to Illinois, but don’t expect it to immediately stem the pandemic as the phased-in release is expected to take months.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration had said Illinois could get 400,000 vaccines the first round. Then, Tuesday that changed to 109,000, which Pritzker said would be two doses for 54,500 people. By Wednesday, Pritzker had more information.

“We’ll be able to give those, put those into people’s arms, 109,000 people, and then they’ll be able to get the second dose of Pfizer 21-28 days later, those 109,000,” Pritzker said. “So we will be able to serve more of the healthcare and long term care facility and do it at the same time.”

Pritzker expects shipments as early as Dec. 13 to Dec. 19.

But, HSHS St. John’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gurpreet Mander said the reality is it will take time.

“You’re looking at probably early summer before we have enough immunity in the community to prevent some kind of transmission therein,” Mander told WMAY Friday.

The plan from the CDC has health care personnel and long-term care facilities being the initial focus, with workers in public safety, utilities, education and the food and agriculture industry thereafter. Then Phase 1c would be adults with high-risk medical conditions, and adults over 65.

Mander said with the time it takes to prioritize the vaccine to such individuals not just in Illinois, but across the nation, the public should remain vigilant.

“Just because the vaccine is around the corner does not mean we let our guard down and stop doing what we have to do with respect to transmission which is wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear a mask,” he said.

Mander said people should consult their physician before getting the vaccine.

“I would strongly encourage folks to kind of consider taking the vaccine,” he said. “All the information and data is out there. You should talk to your physician about it once it comes out.”

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

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