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Pritzker defends vax record in response to Senate Republicans

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Senate Republicans…

Dear Governor Pritzker,

It’s been over a year since Illinois’ first positive COVID-19 case. Since then, those in long-term care facilities have been dying, families haven’t seen each other in months, and our economy has faced historic obstacles. Yet, with a vaccine in hand, Illinois has failed its residents.

The numbers are staggering. According to your Illinois Department of Public Health, of the 537,050 doses of vaccines available and allotted to our long-term care facilities, only 20 percent of them have been administered to its residents—a population that makes up nearly half of COVID-related deaths. That is unacceptable.

Additionally, according to the New York Times, Illinois ranks 47th in overall vaccine distribution, with just 4.8% of Illinoisans receiving at least one shot as of today. We are dead last compared to our sister states—Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and California.

We are asking for you to provide a clear explanation to legislators and to the citizens of Illinois as to why Illinois is among the worst states in regard to getting vaccines out to those who need it most. With all due respect, blaming the previous President, the federal government and CVS/Walgreens simply will not suffice.

Since the pandemic began, you decided on a go-it-alone approach, one that left the Legislature, an equal branch of government, sidelined. You need to empower us as legislators by including us in this process so we can help our constituents who are calling us every day asking why they or their loved ones have not been able to access a vaccine.

It’s up to you to provide full transparency and implement the coordination necessary to maximize the rollout of this vaccine. Anything less is a huge disservice to the people of Illinois and will cost lives.


Members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus

* Pritzker response…

To the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus,

Building out an equitable, efficient, and transparent vaccine distribution plan in Illinois has been my priority since the scale of this pandemic first became clear nearly a year ago. Our Illinois Vaccination Administration Plan coordinates our 97 local health departments on the frontlines in their communities, strengthens their efforts by directing vaccine to hundreds of Walgreens, CVS, Jewel-Osco, Hy-Vee, Mariano’s and Kroger locations, and backs it all up with the force of the Illinois National Guard, who are in the work of supplementing and standing up mass vaccination sites around the state.

My administration has made $25 million in state-funded grants available to local health departments to beef up their staffing, training and rental space – all of which have been challenging obstacles for these departments to overcome.

Furthermore, Illinois is on the right trajectory: we hit records on both Wednesday and Tuesday this week. In fact, as we have helped local health departments overcome their challenges, the State of Illinois is administering more doses a week than it is receiving from the federal government.

Though our work won’t be finished until all of our residents have access to the vaccine, the design of this system is paying off. Per the exact New York Times database you cite, Illinois is the seventh in the nation for total number of doses distributed – right beside our “sister states” of California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. All but one of those states has received more vaccine on a per capita basis than Illinois has at the CDC’s last count – and yet, we have kept up with them despite having less to work with.

In the future, we expect that having a partner in the White House will advance our efforts. For example, FEMA announced today that Illinois will receive $43 million in additional funding to expand our mobile vaccination operations and offer more easy-access locations for our residents as the national vaccine supply increases. This comes on top of the Biden Administration’s announcement that it is pursuing major staffing infusions and securing 200 million additional vaccine doses.

Of course, as I and governors across the political spectrum have made clear, the current national vaccine supply pipeline is completely inadequate for national demand – a product of the previous presidential administration, whether or not you’d like to name it as such. In a country of 330 million, the CDC estimates that only enough doses to fully vaccinate about 23 million people have even gone out the door – and that doesn’t count delays in administration or reporting.

There is additional national bipartisan consensus on the insufficient preparation of the Trump Administration’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care vaccination program; most notably, that while 49 of the 50 states enrolled in the welcomed federal assistance for prioritizing our most vulnerable residents, the federal government did not ensure that CVS and Walgreens had the proper staffing. Indeed, the national program spent half of December accumulating precious doses, not actually delivering a shot into an arm until weeks after states had started this process.

Part of the problem, in Illinois and nationally, is vaccine hesitancy, and I encourage you to address disinformation and lies about the origin and purpose of these vaccines, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in conservative media. We saw this same phenomenon with the disinformation about masking, social distancing and following public health guidelines contributing to increased spread.

While I look forward to working together to address the economic crisis of this pandemic and invest in our residents’ recovery when the legislature does return, in the meantime, I encourage you to make clear to Illinois’ Congressional delegation the need to support additional funding to support our Department of Public Health, our children’s school systems, our first responders doing yeoman’s work and the job creation initiatives our working families need to build back stronger from this pandemic. Additionally, you can encourage your constituents to do their part to mitigate this pandemic until we reach widespread vaccination by staying masked up, keeping our distance, following public health protocols and treating our neighbors with respect.

As you noted, this last year has been immensely difficult for our residents and for all Americans, with far more death, distancing and economic devastation than any one person should experience in a lifetime. I would love to vaccinate all 12.7 million Illinoisans right now so we can begin to rebuild our lives, revitalize our economy, and properly address the traumatic experiences of the last year – but you know as well as I do that a lack of national supply means a lack of vaccination appointments. I encourage you to be a model for patience in your communities. As public servants, our job isn’t over until all the people we serve can claim good health for themselves and their loved ones. It will take all of us, working together and with haste, to keep our people safe and bring this pandemic to a close.

Governor JB Pritzker

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gravy Bond - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 3:49 pm:

    Mindless attacks on the Governor, as the Covid numbers fall. Poor tactic.

  2. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:02 pm:

    ===Members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus===

    The gall of these people. The ego protections they must go through to prevent cognitive dissonance should be a named disorder.

  3. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:07 pm:

    “Part of the problem, in Illinois and nationally, is vaccine hesitancy, and I encourage you to address disinformation and lies about the origin and purpose of these vaccines, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in conservative media. We saw this same phenomenon with the disinformation about masking, social distancing and following public health guidelines contributing to increased spread.”

    This is the tripwire that folks needed to be more prepared for at levels of government. Misinformation sells so, here we are.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:11 pm:

    Ill advised attempt at a broadside.

    I don’t think, as a caucus, they could explain process to the vaccinations outside in complaining form.

    Lots of words by the Governor’s crew, but lots to cover when questions arise of the open-ended nature.

  5. - Father Ted - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:17 pm:

    While presidents and governors own, could the vaccine manufacturers’ supply chain have anything to do with the rollout?
    Besides developing doses for 331 Americans, they’re also developing doses for 38 million Canadians, 212 million Brazilians, etc.

  6. - Almost retired - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:25 pm:

    An evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of Illinois vaccine effort to be valid takes looking at multiple statistics about at least several factors. Taking one number out of a what needs to be a more complete statistical look is simply playing “gotcha” or is a sign that you are not very smart and/or you don’t know how to use statistics. I would welcome concrete ideas from the Republicans on how we can keep people from catching the virus, how we can keep people from dieing from the virus and how Illinois can get more vaccine and how Illinois can vaccinate more people. I am tired of the press releases that simply are negative and critical and don’t offer solutions or a correct interpretation of data. However, I am impress that Illinois Republicans appear to now view the New York Times as an important and accurate source of information.

  7. - Father Ted - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:27 pm:

    Adding to my question above, I have a number of Canadian coworkers who, based on current estimates, won’t be vaccinated any sooner than I will be. Is this a government issue or simply supply versus demand?

  8. - Ferris Wheeler - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:38 pm:

    === “Building out an equitable, efficient, and transparent vaccine distribution plan in Illinois has been my priority“ ===

    I think you have to give the governor props on equity.

    I think we can have a debate about how efficient or transparent vaccine distribution has been.

    But the problem is Republicans are arguing what is missing from the Governor’s Plan is “Speed.” And if the goal is to save as many lives as possible, Speed might trump efficiency and transparency.

    If you are dying of thirst, you don’t really care if a gallon of water costs $2 or $5 or how many hands it took to deliver it to you.

  9. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:39 pm:

    If I am not mistaken Darren Bailey is now a member of the state senate on the GOP side. He is a big part of the problem in Illinois when it comes to the virus spread, vaccine hesitancy, and starving of resources.

    @Father Ted makes a good point regarding vaccine availability. “Illinois” doesn’t make the vaccine, private business does. The Federal government controls the flow of the vaccine supply to the states.

    I am not giving Illinois a free pass on. the distribution because it could be better for sure, but states were waiting for the federal plan that was supposed to be the best most beautiful plan ever and it turned out to be “we’ll send you some vaccine, you are are on your own from there” until the last week when the attitude changed at the top.

  10. - Steve in Spfld - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:42 pm:

    39th out of 50 states when measured more fairly by percentage of doses administered to date. Nothing to brag about. “Vaccine hesitancy” ? If someone doesn’t want it, plenty of other do…move on. I doubt you are having trouble finding folks wanting the vaccine.

  11. - anon - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 4:50 pm:

    “Part of the problem, in Illinois ….is vaccine hesitancy,”
    Sangamon County DPH ( is allowing for those in group 1A or 85 and older to get vaccinated (with exceptions.) They started group 1B after Gov announced it, but had to change back, I assume no vaccines.

  12. - zatoichi - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 5:05 pm:

    Nice letter from the Republicans. It would be much better if they outlined how they will pressure local state attorneys to enforce IDPH rules for group activities, How they will champion the need for everyone to get vaccinated. How they will preach the need for mask usage and distancing to decrease infections. How they will work to get schools what they need to go full time classroom based. How they will work with local health departments to arrange local vaccination processes that can be ready when vaccines are shipped. Are they active partners in this or just bystanders?

  13. - Huh? - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 5:21 pm:

    A little less than 5 wweks ago, the first covid vaccine shot was given on 12/15/2020.

    Standing up a mass vaccination when there was little or no guidance or information from the federal government is a monumental task.

    Rather than complaining, the republicants should be pitching in to help spread the word that everyone needs to get the jab.

  14. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 5:23 pm:

    I really admire the GOP attempt to flip this story around as America inches toward 450,000 deaths.

    I just don’t see it working.

    Republicans are the Party of Personal Freedom, Democrats are the Party of Personal Safety.

    The GOP drew that battle line.

    Republicans will never convince Illinoisans that they are more committed to keeping Illinoisans safe from the virus.

  15. - OneMan - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 5:35 pm:

    Politically, it was a good move for them to introduce this. Illinois has been generally much more receptive (see the current scholarship program) to public assistance to private education than you would expect a state this Democratic to be.

    This sort of thing is going play as an idea in more than just “downstate”. Is it going to happen, no, but it is going to play well all over the state.

  16. - Responsa - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 5:38 pm:

    I am not sure that the responding letter from the Governor is what the people of Illinois are really looking for with respect to the issues that are plaguing their ability to be vaccinated against Covid. It’s not just a few Republican senators who are complaining, you know.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 5:59 pm:

    To clarify my own comment;

    ===… You need to empower us as legislators by including us in this process so we can help our constituents who are calling us every day asking why they or their loved ones have not been able to access a vaccine.===

    What *exactly* do they want to be empowered to do?

    I wish it was snark, but I’m confused to a call to action where what action do they feel then need empowered?

  18. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 6:05 pm:

    Focusing on the LTC in this way is dishonest, disingenuous claptrap, or malarkey as the new occupant of the White House might say. The governor has zero control over the FEDERAL program in partnership with Walgreens/CVS to do LTC vaccinations. Frankly, this is a really dumb place to take a stand.

  19. - Jibba - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 6:30 pm:

    It’s not just a few Republican senators who are complaining===

    True, but it seems to be mostly a few Republicans who are blaming JB about the delays in rollout. Others seem to comprehend that the issues are out of our control, even if they don’t like it much.

  20. - Markus - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 6:32 pm:

    At the end of the day, it’s the Gov’s responsibility to present the vaccine distribution numbers in a clear and concise way. They aren’t there yet. Vaccine hesitancy isn’t even relevant until there is more vaccine available than people trying to get an appointment.

  21. - Steve in Spfld - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 8:03 pm:

  22. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Jan 29, 21 @ 12:24 am:

    === Vaccine hesitancy isn’t even relevant until there is more vaccine available than people trying to get an appointment.===
    I don’t know about that.
    I got my vaccine at Walgreens yesterday. I signed up, got scheduled in two days. I showed up. Got a shot. There was no wait. Nobody was behind me.

  23. - Corn Country - Friday, Jan 29, 21 @ 1:32 am:

    All 600 appointments in this rural area were filled in 11 minutes when online registration was activated for a drive thru clinic.
    Vaccine hesitancy…? No evidence of VH around here…

  24. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 29, 21 @ 9:01 am:

    @Corn Country- what you are citing isn’t evidence. Half of our teaching staff passed on the vaccine, yet all of the county vaccination appointments reserved for educators filled up in a day.

  25. - Rabbit - Friday, Jan 29, 21 @ 9:06 am:

    “… the State of Illinois is administering more doses a week than it is receiving from the federal government.”

    Just like Illinois, spending more money than it receives from the tax-payers.

    Am I the only one here wondering how that is possible??

  26. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jan 29, 21 @ 9:16 am:

    Very dubious there is significant “vaccine hesitancy” - Lake County health department sent out emails saying they don’t have enough to get past 1a, no Walgreens or Osco appointments available within 25 miles.

  27. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Jan 29, 21 @ 10:16 am:

    To the issue of =“Part of the problem, in Illinois ….is vaccine hesitancy,”=

    We really aren’t to the point in the distribution where hesitancy is causing a lack of vaccination. Appointments are booked in minutes and all available supply is being used.

    We simply aren’t equipped to run a mass vaccination effort right now. Not enough vaccine, a complicated logistics effort ect…

    Hopefully in three or four months when the state sits at 60% vaccinated and can’t get more takers on the jab we will be talking hesitancy - but that’s not the case now.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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