Pritzker lays out vaccine distribution plan, initial vaccines to go to 50 counties with top death rates

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that the initial delivery of vaccines to prevent COVID-19 will be dedicated to the 50 counties in the state with the highest death rates per capita. 

Illinois health officials say the vaccines will be shipped to 10 Regional Hospital Coordinating Centers, who will then coordinate distribution to the 50 counties.

The 50 counties include the following:

Greene, Wayne, Carroll, Ford, Mason, Union, Pike, Clay, Jefferson, Clinton, Whiteside, Fayette, Marion, Monroe, Cass, Bureau, Clark, Macon, Warren, La Salle, Williamson, Richland, Coles, Perry, Morgan, Knox, McDonough, Shelby, Suburan Cook, Jasper, Jersey, Saline, Christian, Iroquois, Saint Clair, Dewitt, Kankakee, Rock Island, Madison, Lake, Winnebago, Kane, Randolph, DuPage, Will, Ogle, Jo Daviess, Razewell, Cumberland and Stark.

According to recommendations from the CDC, when a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized by FDA and recommended by ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), vaccination in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program should be offered to health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. 

"In Illinois, we have 655,000 people who qualify as front line healthcare workers. That breaks down to about 162,000 in Chicago and 493,000 outside of Chicago, and I'm making that clear because the federal government has decided to deliver to the nation's largest cities, places like Chicago, and Los Angeles, and New York City a separate direct supply of the vaccine," Gov. Pritzker said. 

Slide from Gov. Pritzker's News Conference, showing Phase 1a Vaccine Distribution details, population groups

Gov. Pritzker says the initial delivery will include 109,000 doses. Of those, 86,000 would be distributed statewide, excluding Chicago. The city of Chicago will receive 23,000.

"The City of Chicago's distribution will operate in tandem with the rest of the state. We're in communication with city officials as they work to distribute the allocation that they get directly," said Gov. Pritzker. 

Vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna, which experts predict will get federal regulatory approval next week, each require two shots, with the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine coming three weeks after the first and Moderna’s, four weeks.

Complicating matters is the storage requirement for the Pfizer product. The state has purchased 20 specialized freezers to store it at the required minus 94 degrees, Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

Gov. Pritzker encouraged Illinoisans to continue taking proven safety precautions while the state builds immunity, which includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and hand hygiene. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.