March 05, 2021

Vaccine distribution will focus on providing more second doses, fewer first doses until March, state says

IDPH says shift in focus is necessary to make sure second doses are delivered within required window of time

Vaccine distribution throughout Illinois will focus on providing more second doses to residents starting this week for the next several weeks, meaning fewer people will be able to receive their first dose of the vaccine, the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a news release Sunday.

As more Illinois residents have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines with the move to vaccinating Phase 1b populations, a greater number of residents now are due for their second dose making this shift necessary, according to the release.

Starting Monday, vaccine providers will receive a larger share of second vaccine doses. As federal vaccine shipments to Illinois still are limited, this means fewer first doses will be included in each shipment that local health departments and other vaccine providers receive, according to the release.

In a news release on Friday, the DeKalb County Health Department said this means a 75% decrease in the number of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines coming to them from the state.

“This means that our previous 1,200 dose per week allotment will be reduced to between 200 and 300 doses per week,” according to the release. “Since we anticipate the 300 dose per week allotment for the next few weeks, we have paused all re-allocation of vaccine until further notice.”

A second dose is required with both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in order to be up to 95% effective in preventing a COVID-19 infection. These second doses must be administered four weeks after the first dose for the Moderna vaccine, and three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine, according to the IDPH.

IDPH has been working with vaccine providers throughout the state to prepare for this new focus as a way to balance the distribution of first and second doses, according to the release. They anticipate that this focus on providing second doses will continue for the next several weeks and that more first doses will be available again in March.

Melaney Arnold, spokesperson for the IDPH, said the state expects vaccine dose supply to slowly increase in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the state didn’t want to push out those vaccines for more patients’ first doses that could potentially not get the second one in time and, ultimately, could result in those patients having to get a third dose.

“It’s going to be that continuing balancing act,” Arnold said.

Arnold said vaccine providers, including pharmacies, are going to have to get even more in the habit of planning out second doses corresponding with first doses. She said she understands it’s frustrating to not have the doses to meet the huge demand for the vaccine.

“We continue to ask for patience, simply because there just isn’t the supply of vaccine that we all want,” Arnold said. “We’re trying to distribute it as equitably as possible and trying to get it out as quickly as possible.”

Kelli Duncan - Northwest Herald

Kelli Duncan is a reporter for the Northwest Herald covering county government as well as the communities of Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Marengo and Harvard. She has previously covered local politics, immigration and feature stories.