Illinois Republicans slam Pritzker as COVID-19 vaccinations lag

Illinois public health officials announced Thursday nearly 56,000 people in the state were vaccinated against COVID-19 on Wednesday as state Republicans questions Gov. J.B. Pritzker on why Illinois’ efforts in the area is lagging.

In a letter addressed to Pritzker, members of the Senate Republican Caucus said Illinois ranks 47th in overall vaccine distribution, with just 4.8% of Illinoisans receiving at least one shot as of Thursday.

"We are asking for you to provide a clear explanation to legislators and to the citizens of Illinois as to why Illinois is among the worst states in regard to getting vaccines out to those who need it most," the caucus said in the letter, adding that putting the blame on former President Donald Trump or the federal government is unsatisfactory.

State officials say more than 829,000 shots have been administered since the federal government shipped vaccines to the state. But only 178,684 state residents have received the required two doses.

During a Thursday visit to a newly established vaccination site in a Cicero high school, Pritzker said Illinois is expanding its vaccination capability.


"The average number of doses per day that’s being administered is going up significantly," Pritzker said. "We’re going on a good trajectory," Pritzker said. "Between the Biden administration’s increasing the number of doses, and our build-out of all of these facilities to deliver those doses, you’re seeing the effect of that in the record number of doses administered yesterday."

Wednesday’s 55,865 vaccinations topped the 53,628 shots administered Tuesday.

Pritzker has been urging patience for essential workers and people 65 or older who are now eligible to receive shots. He says efforts will be bolstered with $43 million in new federal funding and a 16% increase in weekly vaccine deliveries promised by President Joe Biden’s administration.

Health officials announced 4,181 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 103 new deaths. The pandemic death toll now stands at 19,067, with the total number of known infections in Illinois at more than 1.1 million.