Cronin: DuPage's vaccine allotment 'completely and totally inadequate'

  • DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin

    DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin

  • Karen Ayala, DuPage County Health Department executive director, announces the Feb. 10 opening of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the county fairgrounds in Wheaton. The site is closing three part of the week because of tight vaccine supplies.

      Karen Ayala, DuPage County Health Department executive director, announces the Feb. 10 opening of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the county fairgrounds in Wheaton. The site is closing three part of the week because of tight vaccine supplies. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/23/2021 9:17 PM

DuPage County has more than 100 vaccine providers with the ability to distribute doses, if only all of them could get COVID-19 shots.

This week, the second-most populous county in Illinois will receive just 4,510 shots intended for first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

 

A mass vaccination clinic at the county fairgrounds -- a site toured by congressional lawmakers -- also is shutting down for part of the week because there aren't enough shots to go around.

State officials have warned local health departments that allocations of second doses will outnumber initial ones in the coming weeks as hundreds of thousands of people who received their first jab a few weeks ago are now due for their second.

But DuPage officials remain deeply frustrated by an already scarce and erratic vaccine supply.

"After many days of intensive and sometimes quite animated conversations with the governor, his staff and IDPH, I can report to you that our vaccination allocation has gone up incrementally," Chairman Dan Cronin told county board members Tuesday.

The county's first-dose allocation increased from 2,450 to 4,510 shots this week. The county expects to receive 6,200 first doses next week.

"Now keep in mind this is for a county of nearly 1 million people," Cronin said. "Completely and totally inadequate."

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Cronin and health department officials acknowledged a national shortage as well as weather-related vaccine delays. But DuPage and four other collar counties have declined to follow the state's plan to widen vaccine eligibility to medically vulnerable people under 65 because local officials say the supply is so low.

The expansion would represent another 174,000 people in DuPage, Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala said.

"Adding 174,000 to the already undersupplied population does not make a lot of sense since these priority groups were identified based on risk in the first place," she said.

DuPage leads the collar counties with 4.88% of its population fully immunized with two shots. But on a per capita basis, DuPage lags behind the Illinois county average for putting shots into arms, with 16,507 doses per 100,000 people administered as of last week, according to state data. The county average in the state is 18,902 doses delivered per 100,000.

As of Monday, state data showed the DuPage health department held a vaccine inventory of 3,120 doses, while providers had 45,487. The county overall had a total of 28,386 doses available for use in the first week of the month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Like every state in the country, Illinois receives limited doses from the federal government, so it's imperative that every single dose coming to the state is used as quickly as possible," Gov. J.B. Pritzker's spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said. "DuPage County currently has three times more doses on hand than other collar counties."

"IDPH has urged local health departments with large numbers of vaccine doses on hand, like DuPage County, to reach out to providers to express a sense of urgency and provide support so any backlog can be administered as soon as possible," Abudayyeh said.

IDPH has also encouraged local health departments to claw back doses from providers that are not using them, Abudayyeh said.

"As the state's allocation is expected to increase in coming weeks," she said, "it is vital that county health departments get a handle on their inventory and operations so they can manage the next phases of vaccine rollout efficiently and vaccine is not sitting on shelves in their community."

But Cronin has repeatedly called on the state to provide more details and clarity about the distribution process.

"We were told by the director of IDPH yesterday that's there going to be huge supplies coming soon. ... OK, how much? When? How is that going to be distributed? How do we prepare for that?"

The county estimates it could take about 12 weeks through April to fully vaccinate the nearly 270,000 people eligible for shots within Phase 1B of the rollout. That three-month prediction was based on receiving 18,000 doses a week, Ayala said.

Combined, the total number of first and second doses coming into the county this week is 16,510, less than half the 34,100 allotted the week of Jan. 31.

Currently, there are 111 approved vaccine providers throughout the county.

"Not all sites, in fact very few of these sites, these last couple weeks are receiving the vaccine because supply is so low," Ayala said. "And yet these providers report being able to and having invested resources to administer at least 50,000 doses per week, so we are ready for increases in supply."

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