COVID-19 vaccine to be ‘free but not mandatory,’ roll out in phases in Illinois

Local News

CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday that a statewide distribution framework has been set up to provide “equitable access” to COVID-19 vaccines, once they become available.

At his daily coronavirus briefing, the Governor said first priority will go to medical workers and senior residents at long-term care facilities.

“Illinois will not distribute a vaccine until we have one that is proven safe and effective,” Pritzker said. “The most defining characteristic of the plan is that it is adjustable.”

Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said an independent Illinois review board will examine developments of a vaccine to ensure its safety.

A vaccine will not be mandated, she said, but would be provided free of charge, although health care providers may charge a small fee. Providers will be required to register with the state, she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 80% of the population needs to take the vaccine in order to achieve “herd immunity.”

Officials also said the vaccine rollout will happen in phases, and it would take months to get the approved vaccine to everyone in Illinois.

Currently, there are 3 vaccine candidates in final stage clinical trials, with two additional candidates on hold. Ezike said the race to a vaccine started with 14 candidates.

Pritzker also said Abbott Laboratories was delivering 170,000 rapid tests to local health departments for the first time today, with shipments to continue on a weekly basis. Over 3 million tests will be delivered to Illinois, he said.

The rapid test returns results in as little as 15 minutes.

The new rapid tests are also being sent straight to long-term care facilities, Pritzker said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health today reported 4,342 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 69 additional deaths.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 355,217 cases, including 9,345 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from October 14 – October 20 is 5.7%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 66,791 specimens for a total of 6,950,105. As of last night, 2,338 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 502 patients were in the ICU and 194 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Region 1’s 7-day rolling positivity average dropped slightly to 11.6% on Wednesday, down from 11.8% on Tuesday.

Boone: 15.7% (16% yesterday)
Carroll: 11.6% (11.4% yesterday)
DeKalb: 8.2% (8.7% yesterday)
Jo Daviess: 9.6% (9.4% yesterday)
Lee: 11.1% (10.9% yesterday)
Ogle: 10.2% (9.3% yesterday)
Stephenson: 9.2% (12.4% yesterday)
Whiteside: 11.6% (11.8% yesterday)
Winnebago: 12.8% (12.7% yesterday)

The region is under enhanced mitigation efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, including closure of indoor service at bars and restaurants, and gatherings are limited to 25 people.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the additional restrictions will only be lifted when the region has a 6.5% rolling average for 3 consecutive days.

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