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Advocate Christ Medical Center will distribute vaccines to fight COVID-19

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Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn will serve as a regional distribution center for vaccine doses for COVID-19.
By Joe Boyle
Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn is one of 10 hospitals in the state to serve as a regional distribution center that will receive vaccine doses to combat COVID-19.
Administrators at Advocate said that they will be working with other hospitals to distribute and vaccinate the first recipients. The 50 counties with the highest death rates per capita will be the first to receive the vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Friday as the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 10,526 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Officials are expecting an opening shipment of 109,000 vaccine doses as early as next week. Advocate Christ Medical Center, 4440 W. 95th St., has also seen a rise in COVID-19 cases the past month. As of Friday, the number of patients discharged from Advocate medical facilities was 14,509.
The number of positive cases at Advocate institutions in Illinois totaled 23,265 as of Friday. The impatient cases were 641. Advocate is expected to receive 8,775 initial doses this month, according to IDPH. Other local institutions that will receive vaccine doses will be Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, and Northshore-Highland Park Hospital in Highland Park.
While the vaccine doses will be distributed soon it will be several months until there is an adequate number that will be available for the general population, according to the governor. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the IDPH, said that it is still important to maintain social distance, wear face coverings, avoid large gatherings and get flu shots.
The first vaccine that could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by today (Thursday, Dec. 10) is manufactured by the drug company Pfizer. It requires an initial dose, then another dose three to four weeks later. Pritzker said the first shipment could arrive in two weeks. Another vaccine from the drug company Moderna could get approval one week following the Pfizer vaccine.
“That (success rate) is phenomenal,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg, the executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention for Advocate Aurora Health, in regards to Moderna and Pfizer. “Both of these companies really hit out of the park.”
Citronberg is encouraged by the news but is concerned that when those two vaccines and several others are available that many people will not take them.
“The most important thing to remember is that vaccines are useless unless people are willing to get immunized,” Citronberg said. “The vaccines themselves don’t do anything, so we at Advocate Aurora will be doing a big push to recommend these vaccines for our team members, our patients at risk and our community.”
Pritzker said that the initial recipients will be health care workers and long-term care residents. The governor said that 655,000 people in Illinois qualify as frontline health care workers — 162,000 in Chicago and 493,000 outside of Chicago. About 110,000 adults statewide live in congregate settings.
After that group will be “other essential workers and persons at higher risks of severe COVID-19 illness, including persons 65 years of age and older,” according to the state’s vaccine plan. Then it will be “critical populations” as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP. Then the general population can receive the vaccine.
“ In other words, this will not be a quick process. With the two-dose timeline, no single person will be fully vaccinated even by Christmas, and it will likely be months before people with low risk factors for COVID-19 see their first dose,” Pritzker said. “But the very fact that we have this timeline is the result of incredible private sector innovation and long standing public investment in scientific research.”
Pritzker said the first shipment, if indeed it includes 109,000 doses, would be divided into 23,000 doses directly to Chicago and 86,000 to be distributed to the rest of the state.
Citronberg said he doesn’t expect the companies involved with the vaccine to end at two, and suggested that by sometime in 2021, there may be multiple options available.
“We could have five, six, seven vaccines available, which will really help us to cover the population,” Citronberg said.
Contributing to this report was Jerry Nowicki with Capitol News Illinois

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