HIGHWOOD – Stories of clinics not receiving their promised number of COVID-19 vaccines, appointment websites crashing, and people spending the night in their cars hoping to be first in line to get their dose aren’t unheard of. The frequency of these stories – and others – led State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) to schedule a Senate hearing on the statewide vaccine distribution plan.

“As the demand for the vaccine has grown, so has anticipation for each of us waiting for the vaccine,” Morrison said. “We’ve been fielding calls from frustrated and frightened constituents who are eligible but can’t find their place in line or get the vaccine.”

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At Thursday’s Senate Health Committee – chaired by Morrison – senators brought forth concerns from people who live in districts they represent about issues ranging from how people who are homebound can receive the vaccine to how local communities can plan clinics without more precise numbers on how many doses they will receive.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike helped answer those questions, and said to date, the state has administered more than 1.5 million vaccines – 1.2 million of which were initial doses and more than 300,000 were second doses. She acknowledged there have been challenges, and IDPH will provide more than $25 million in grants to local health departments throughout the state to assist with challenges administering the vaccination.

While Morrison is pleased more people will be able to receive their dose under Phase 1b, she raised concerns about the amount of available vaccine, asking how to make sure people 65 and older won’t be lost in the competitive crowd. Ezike said 25% of that population has been vaccinated and IDPH continues to reach out to ensure no one is left behind.

“I know patience has run thin as people are worried about their safety and the safety of their loved ones, so obviously the limitation of this vaccine is causing some anxiety,” Ezike said. “We will be giving out the vaccine as quickly as we can get it.”

Morrison will continue to work with IDPH, local health departments and other stakeholders to ensure every person eligible for the vaccine can get it in an efficient way. She plans to call another meeting in weeks to come to see if progress has been made.

“It is my wish we can bring light and clarity to the process,” Morrison said. “I hope we can continue to work collaboratively to create a more coordinated and efficient distribution plan.”

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