NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Edward Hospital in Naperville received its shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Thursday morning.
Nearly 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived by minivan surrounded by a police escort at before dawn...the first shipment of more to come.
"Today is a momentous for us as we receive the vaccine, we begin to vaccinate our employees this afternoon and it's really for us represents the beginning of the end," said Mary Lou Mastro, Edward-Elmhurst Health CEO.
The hospital had originally expected to get its first batch of about 2,000 vaccines on Tuesday.
Suburban hospitals are now part of the mass vaccination effort happening across the country shots were given in Will County Thursday afternoon and more are expected today in DuPage County.
"You can actually feel within the health care system and the hospitals this change in culture this excitement and enthusiasm to realize that we are able to do something now to make a difference and change the course of the pandemic," Mastro said.
Elmhurst Hospital also received doses of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday morning.
Kevin Rehder, the pharmacy director at Edward Hospital explained that the vaccines were taken out of ultra-cold freezers and delivered in a refrigerated state.
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"The clock started ticking bout 4 in the morning from the site they took it out of the ultra cold freezer and 120 hours starts at about 4 in the morning, so we have 120 hours to vaccinate several thousand staff members," Rehder said.
Patti Sullivan is a nurse at Edward Hospital. She's scheduled to get her shot at 3:40 p.m.
"It just mean's that we feel safe because we know that we have something on board that can protect us," Sullivan said.
Meanwhile several other hospitals in the Chicago area received shipments. Loyola and Mt. Sinai will begin vaccinating it's healthcare workers Thursday.
This is occurring as Governor JB Pritzker said the state was told by the feds that the allotment of vaccine being sent out next week is being cut in half.
"Would I like everybody to be vaccinated today or this week? I would. I would like it if that could happen. But I think we need to recognize this is a complex process," Governor Pritzker said.
While vaccinating Illinois' healthcare workers has begun it's been a slower process than some have anticipated considering shipments of the Pfizer vaccine have been in the state since the beginning of the week. Some hospitals are still waiting for their doses. Because the Pfizer vaccine requires extreme cold storage, the logistics of getting the vaccine to hospitals involves multiple steps.
"What we are calling a bureaucracy a lot of it is logistics for a very difficult product that no one has dealt with before in the vaccine world," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
The good news is the FDA is likely to give authorization to the Moderna vaccine in the next few days and shipments may go out next week.