So, how’s that vaccine rollout been going in Illinois thus far? Neither the state in general nor Chicago, in particular, have been making as many headlines as the botched distribution plans in New York, Texas, Minnesota, and California, but it turns out that the best-laid plans weren’t laid so well in the Land of Lincoln, either. A recent report from the local CBS News outlet in Chicago reveals that many frontline workers and nursing home patients and staff have indeed been vaccinated. But the bulk of the doses that the state has received have remained on ice. The total number of vials sent to medical facilities in Illinois is well below many other states on a per capita basis, so you would think they would be running out of doses on a daily basis. But thus far, barely more than 40% of them have actually made it into patients’ arms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far, 427,000 doses of the vaccine have been sent to Illinois – population 12.6 million.
A total of 176,000 people here have received the first dose, or 41 percent of the vaccine in the state now.
Still, logistics expert and head of Northwestern University Transportation Center Hani Mahmassani tells us: “This is better than the national average. The national average so far has been more around 35 percent, and so overall as a state, we’re doing a little better.”
Something has definitely gone wrong here. Saying that Illinois is still doing “better than the national average” isn’t very comforting since the national average is still hot garbage. The first part of the problem falls on federal shoulders. The entire plan was supposed to be based on population density by state. If one state is getting a significantly (as much as 25%) smaller number of doses than another state with the same population, then the federal plan was flawed from the outset.
But once the vaccines arrive at their destination, the burden lies on the state and municipal governments. Yes, we’ve seen significant resistance to accepting the vaccine in certain sectors, but there are still plenty of people lining up or even begging for a chance to get in line. CBS News spoke to one such family that has several senior citizens with underlying conditions.
It is a tense time for Mary Lou Kroll and her sisters.
“I’ll be 70 years old this year and I have three sisters. We’re 60, 70, 74 and 76,” Kroll said, “and I can’t even see them.”
Kroll and her sisters are all waiting to get the COVID vaccine.
“I’m extremely anxious and fearful and I can’t sleep,” she said,
As of the beginning of the week, Illinois was sitting on more than a quarter-million doses of the vaccine while people are crying out for a chance to be vaccinated. Yes, they should be prioritizing first responders and frontline medical workers who want the vaccine. But if it can’t be efficiently transported to where the demand is greatest, there should have been a plan in place to open up the doors to the general public before any of the vials go bad.
None of this was impossible to anticipate. Everyone has known that the vaccines were in development for more than nine months. They were going to arrive sooner or later. How so many states have been caught flat-footed with no plan for emergency contingencies is a complete and utter failure of government at the state and local levels. And some of these people are going to have to be held accountable after the dust settles.