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Chicago’s Incoming Vaccine Supply Being Cut In Half By Feds, Pritzker Says

Federal officials initially told state leaders they would send out nearly 8 million doses of the vaccine next week — but they'll only send out half that, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday.

Elizabeth Zimnie (center), an ER nurse at Norwegian American Hospital, receives the COVID-19 vaccination administered by Dr. Abha Agrawal (left), chief medical officer at Norwegian American Hospital at Loretto Hospital in Chicago on Dec. 15, 2020.
Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Pool
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CHICAGO — Chicago and Illinois will only get about half the amount of Pfizer vaccine doses they expected to get in coming weeks, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday.

The same is true for cities and states across the nation, as the federal government has slashed what it will distribute by nearly half for the next two weeks, Pritzker said.

Federal officials initially told state leaders they would send out nearly 8 million doses of the vaccine next week, distributing them to cities and states based on their population sizes, Pritzker said.

“I’m disappointed to learn … that per the direction of Operation Warp Speed’s General Perna, that estimate was tightened significantly down to 4.3 million doses shipped nationally next week,” Pritzker said during a Wednesday coronavirus update.

Similar cuts will be made in the week after that: The federal government had estimated it’d ship out 8.8 million doses, but officials now say they’ll only send 4.3 million doses to cities and states, Pritzker said.

That means Illinois and Chicago expect to see their allotment of doses cut by roughly half, Pritzker said.

Pritzker did not say what reasons federal officials gave for cutting the expected shipments in half. He said even the 4.3 million number is a projection — and he no longer fully believes projections from the feds.

Vaccination campaigns started Tuesday in Chicago and across the state, signaling what many hope will be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city received just 23,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to start, and it estimates there are 400,000 health care workers who will be prioritized for the vaccine. The rest of Illinois got 86,000 doses.

But more doses will be shipped in weekly, and doses from other vaccines — like Moderna’s, which is expected to be approved soon — will shore up Chicago’s supply, officials have said.

Still, due to the low supply and high demand, vaccines won’t be available to the general public for months.

“The excitement of the week continues as more vaccine gets pushed out across Illinois and into the arms of our workers in health care settings,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Wednesday. “And each week, although it may be reduced, … we will continue to receive new allocations of vaccine, and the number of people eligible to be vaccinated will expand.

“The news of the vaccine is cause for celebration, but of course I reiterate it does not signify the end of the pandemic, not yet. But it is the beginning of the end.”

Officials said people should keep following safety measures — like wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and celebrating the holidays virtually — to slow the virus’s spread and save lives.

RELATED: Don’t Make This Holiday Season Your Last, Top Doc Says, Urging Illinoisans To Celebrate Virtually

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