'We need more vaccine': Coronavirus vaccine progress falls short as health officials wait for more shipments

More than 1K Americans have died a day from the coronavirus since December 1st

ByLiz Nagy, Evelyn Holmes, and Jesse Kirsch WLS logo
Sunday, January 3, 2021
COVID vaccine progress falls short as health officials wait for more shipments
With thousands more COVID-19 cases and dozens more deaths in the state, Illinois health officials said delays with vaccine distribution are more crucial than ever.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Another record-setting day in the COVID-19 pandemic as the United States reported nearly 276,000 new cases Saturday. That's the highest ever one day total.

The record-setting day comes as the federal government and states are facing criticism over the vaccine distribution efforts.

Many Chicago-area health systems say they don't know when they'll get their next shipments of vaccines and the city's mayor is again blaming bad handling on the federal government.

However, there is a bit of discrepancy in what is actually causing delays in inoculations.

"If you look at Illinois as a state, according to the CDC numbers, it's about 42% of the vaccine delivered to Illinois has actually be administered," said Professor Hani Mahmasssani, a Northwestern University logistics expert.

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Mahmasssani said the issue is not just delivering the doses, but actually having the system in place to administer the shots.

He said so far, while 14 million doses of the 20 million promised by the Trump Administration have delivered, only roughly 4 million doses have been used -- which is 79% short of the New Year's goal.

"The issue is not so much getting it from the manufacturer to the different states and local areas, it's the actual vaccination rate locally to absorb all of that quantity and actually deliver it to people," Mahmasssani said.

According to the CDC, Illinois has received around 400,000 doses.

"Chicago has already distributed >95% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses it has received. However, at the current rate of dose allocation from the federal government, it would take 71 weeks-nearly one and a half years-to fully vaccinate the entire city. We need more vaccine. Now," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a tweet Saturday.

On Sunday, outgoing President Donald Trump took to Twitter to claim that, "The vaccines are being delivered to the states by the Federal Government far faster than they can be administered!"

"That is a logistics failure," said Dr. Megan Ranney, a Brown University Emergency Physician.

The U.S. topped more than 20 million COVID-19 infections just as the pandemic crossed into its second calendar year.

"We have more cases, we have more hospitalizations, we have travel that's going to lead to further surges in January. Now we have this new version of the virus that's going to spread more easily and make our hospitals still more full," Dr. Ranney added.

And that's on the tail of the pandemic's deadliest month as more than 1,000 Americans a day died of the coronavirus since December 1st.

As Indiana ends its deadliest week, city and state officials are voicing their concerns that shipments of the vaccine aren't coming as promised, and not nearly fast enough.

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And while states are hoping to fast track the first round of vaccinations, Mahmasssani said the key is having the apparatus in place along with a steady supply and the ability to get it where it needs to be.

"That was my concern initially," he said, "because it really takes a large effort to be vaccinating people at the rate at which we want to do that."

"So, it's just not working and no state got it right," Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney said.

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city has distributed more than 95% of vaccines it received.

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While health systems work to get their employees and first responders inoculated as quickly as possible Will County is asking its residents to register online to streamline the process once the vaccine is more widely available.

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