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Illinois’ top doc says wide vaccine availability months away

February 21, 2021 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ top doctor vowed wide availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to the state’s residents, but said it’ll take months for supply to meet demand.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike’s comments in a weekend Chicago Tribune opinion piece come amid complaints of vaccine shortages and difficulties in obtaining appointments. The recent blast of winter weather also delayed shipments, leading to canceled appointments.

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“It will be months before our supply comfortably outpaces demand — an obstacle we always expected, and the very reason we have devoted so much time and thought to the phases of prioritization,” Ezike wrote. “Everyone deserves their turn to get the vaccine, and it’s my promise to Illinois that we will get there — as efficiently, quickly and equitably as we can.”

Currently, health care workers, residents ages 65 and older and essential workers are eligible. Illinois officials announced an expansion starting later this month to include people with underlying health conditions, but Chicago and other areas are delaying, citing a vaccine shortage.

More than 2.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois. State health officials on Sunday reported 1,585 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths.

Overall, Illinois has reported more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 20,000 deaths.