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Illinois preparing for 80 percent COVID-19 vaccination rate as soon as vaccine available

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Health (49) Syverson, Dave--State Senate, 35

(The Center Square) – It’s not ready yet, but local health departments in Illinois are gearing up to begin accepting COVID-19 vaccines for when they become available, and the state has a goal of vaccinating 80 percent of the population.

During a situation update last month with local stakeholders across the state, Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Carla Little said initial vaccine supplies will be limited, and the focus will be on a priority group like health care workers and long term care facilities.

But, eventually, they hope to have mass vaccination as supplies allow.

“We know so far from the federal government, from CDC, is they’re asking us to prepare to administer possibly two doses of the vaccine to 80 percent of our population,” Little said.

There are several types of vaccines working through the final stages of clinical trials. Some could be available as early as next month.

“We’re not sure exactly what we will receive when we receive it but expect it to be one of these types,” Little said.

Supplies could be available as early as next month, with even more throughout 2021. But, Little said there could be less demand.

“As we did during the H1N1 response, for those of us that were around to remember it, at some point we had so much vaccine available and the demand for it became really low,” Little said. “So we may see something similar here as well.”

Having a vaccine widely available is one of the elements Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said would lift all COVID-19 restrictions like crowd size and dining capacity limits.

Whether there’ll be uptake is unclear. Polling suggests half of the country says they wouldn't get it.

During last week’s Vice Presidential Debate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, was skeptical.

“If the doctors tell us we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely,” Harris said. “But if [President] Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

Last month state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said that kind of rhetoric was disappointing.

“You would think people would be celebrating [a vaccine], instead you’re seeing a lot of people from one party that seems to be very discouraged by that, so that’s disappointing,” Syverson said.