Illinois to receive 400,000 doses in first vaccine distribution

Drug maker Pfizer is asking for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. If approved, a limited number of doses could be available as early as next month.

Illinois' public health director says the state will receive 400,000 doses in the first round of vaccine distributions, and those doses will be spread out equally across all communities.

“Those freezers if you will, will be placed in all 11 regions to make sure there is access for every part of the state to do the vaccine,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Ezike on Friday laid out the ultra-cold storage plan that is necessary for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. Major hospitals statewide will administer it.

Healthcare workers and first responders will be first in line to receive it.

"I think everybody understands why it was rushed being in the midst of a global pandemic where we are losing countless, in our state alone, we are losing 500, 600 people every single week,” Ezike said.

It could take as little as two weeks for the vaccine to receive FDA approval. In trials, it was 95-percent effective.

Compare that to last year's flu vaccine, which was 39-percent effective.

"I'm cautiously optimistic about this, it's one of the largest studies ever completed in the United States.  More than 40,000 participants for this study and the data looks amazing,” said Dr. Chris Colbert with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The company says it plans to have 50 million doses available this year and 1.3 billion for next year. Once approval for the vaccine is given, distribution will start within 24 hours.