SPRINGFIELD, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker is defending his administration’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Republicans have been critical because a quarter of the vaccine doses available for long-erm care residents have been administered.
The New York Times puts Illinois near the bottom of all states in getting out at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Among similar sized states, Illinois is underperforming. The state is about the middle of the pack for administering the second dose. For total percentage of doses used, Illinois is in the bottom half.
Pritzker Thursday said despite the comparisons, Illinois’ distribution is speeding up.
“And, I’ve explained before about second doses and making sure people understand the time lag between the time that somebody administers that does and the time that it is reported being administered,” Pritzker said. “What’s happening is the average number of doses per day that’s being administered is going up significantly.”
Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed that on Wednesday more than 55,800 vaccines were administered. That’s on top of the 53,600 administered the day before. The seven day rolling average is 36,728.
Illinois started administering doses Dec. 15.
As of Thursday afternoon, only 26.6 percent of Illinois’ allotted COVID-19 doses for long term care residents had been administered, or just 131,284 of 496,100.
Republican state senators criticized the governor for underperforming other states and for administering only a quarter of the doses meant for long term care residents, a population considered at most risk of COVID-19.
In a letter to the governor, they said “those in long-term care facilities have been dying, families haven’t seen each other in months, and our economy has faced historic obstacles. Yet, with a vaccine in hand, Illinois has failed its residents.”
State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said it’s unacceptable.
“We want to help, we want to be part of the process, we know we can do things to help and yet we’re not allowed to,” McClure said. “And then when things go wrong it’s somebody else’s fault, it’s not his fault.”
McClure said the legislature has been cut out of this and other issues like the state’s unemployment problems and more. He demanded public hearings and even audits.
“We should be able to prod and get answers to questions,” McClure said. “I shouldn’t have to call 50 people to get a response about an issue.”
Senate President Don Harmon’s office said Harmon, D-Oak Park, shares the concerns raised by both the governor and Republican senators “about the ineffective and unacceptably slow rollout of the long-term care facility vaccination program by the federal government and its corporate partners.”
“Clearly things haven’t gone the way we were led to believe they would go, and clearly this isn’t just a problem in Illinois,” Harmon spokesman John Patterson said. “We are reviewing the matter and best course of action for getting answers and, more importantly, results. It is our hope that the Biden administration will be able to quickly correct this problem it inherited.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Illinois public health officials reported 1.4 percent of the state’s population is “fully vaccinated.”