Update - 26 January 2021
A message from Mary Weis, Acting Vice President for Administration:
Outlined below is a summary of COVID-19 vaccine information available as of 26 January 2021. Please note that the development, manufacture, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine is a work in progress, and like the pandemic itself, this information changes regularly.
Operation Warp Speed is the federal initiative to develop, manufacture, and distribute 300 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. So far, the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines have been approved for use. These vaccines are being distributed to individual states, tribes, and territories; the states are then distributing the vaccine to individual counties. The amount of vaccine provided is based on several factors, including population size and disease burden.
As of now, the key vaccination issue is supply; in this early stage of manufacturing, there is simply not enough vaccine to meet the demand. To ensure the equitable and fair distribution of the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided prioritization guidelines, which recommend a phased approach to vaccination.
The phases recommended by the CDC are as follows:
- Phase 1 — With an initial limited supply of vaccine, vaccine is provided to certain populations who are at higher risk for infection and illness; the vaccine is administered by a limited number of providers. These populations include:
- Phase 1a — health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities
- Phase 1b — persons aged 75+ and front-line essential workers, including first responders, postal workers, grocery store workers, and education workers, etc.
- Phase 1c — persons aged 65+, persons aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers in sectors such as transportation and logistics, food service, construction, information technology, etc.
- Phase 2 — As the supply of vaccine increases, and more providers are available to administer, a broader set of the population is able to receive the vaccine.
- Phase 3 — Once the supply of vaccine is sufficient to meet demand, distribution is integrated into the routine vaccination programs currently in place.
Since these are guidelines, each state is able to make changes to the populations identified in phases 1a, 1b, and 1c above. For example, in Wisconsin, phase 1a includes first responders; in Illinois, first responders are included in phase 1b. In Illinois and in Wisconsin, the age in phase 1b was reduced from 75 years to 65 years.
Currently, both Illinois and Wisconsin are vaccinating health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. As of 25 January 2021, both states are making the vaccine available to persons aged 65+. As of this date, Illinois is also making the vaccination available to front-line essential workers in many sectors, including education. However, in Illinois, education is defined as grades K through 12; higher education is not included in phase 1b. In Wisconsin, the priority populations to be immunized in phase 1b have not yet been finalized, therefore it is not known whether higher education will be included in this group.
Vaccinations are administered by providers who register through the states. Providers include hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and local health departments. Aurora University has expressed willingness to assist Kane County in vaccine distribution; however, we have not yet heard back from them. This is most likely due to the fact that, right now, the biggest issue is the limited supply of vaccine, not a limited supply of providers.
Finally, it is not certain how long it will take to immunize the populations in each phase. This is because: 1) there is a limited supply of vaccine and 2) there are individuals in each population who may chose not to get vaccinated. It appears that phase 1a took approximately 3 weeks; it is anticipated that phase 1b could take up to 12 weeks, at least in DuPage and Kane counties in Illinois.
As an individual, your best bet is to: 1) reach out to your health care provider to express interest in receiving the vaccine when it becomes available, and 2) register with the county in which you work and in which you live to receive information on vaccine as it becomes available.
Here are some links to additional information that may be of interest: