Mayor Steve Hagerty addresses vaccine supply and distribution during vaccine Q&A


Daily file photo by Alison Albeda

While Evanston vaccination rates are above state and national averages, Mayor Steve Hagerty advises the community continue adhering to public health measures.

Andrew Myers, Reporter

Mayor Steve Hagerty addressed concerns surrounding COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution during a Facebook Q&A on Thursday. Hagerty hosted the session in conjunction with the Evanston Health & Human Services Department.

Residents were most concerned about the speed of vaccine distribution through the Evanston Health Department. Hagerty said Evanston currently only receives between 300 and 1,400 doses of the vaccine per week.

“It’s not like we have 10,000 doses of vaccine and we are saying let’s just do two events this week and three events next week,” Hagerty said. “If we had 10,000 doses of vaccine, we would be holding events every single day.”

As of Thursday, 8,786 Evanston residents have received the vaccine, not including those who have been vaccinated outside of the city’s health department. But according to Director of Health and Human Services Ike Ogbo, Evanston has the infrastructure to administer more doses.

“We have been pleading our case to the state to increase our [vaccine] allotment,” he said. “We have the capacity to administer thousands of vaccines a day.”

Hagerty echoed Obgo’s sentiment. He said although he appreciates the opening of mass vaccination centers at facilities like the United Center, he does not believe the federal government is taking advantage of existing healthcare infrastructure to administer vaccines.

Because Evanston is not receiving a significant number of doses, Hagerty encouraged all residents who are currently eligible under Illinois’ Phase 1b to get vaccinated at other sites, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and mass vaccination sites.

Residents also expressed concern about who is prioritized within vaccine distribution, as well as how the federal government’s approval of more vaccines will change the distribution process.

Public health manager Greg Olsen said Evanston has been working its way down by age to prioritize the most vulnerable residents, which is why some residents over the age of 65 have not received shots, even though they are eligible under Phase 1b.

“Right now we are at about age 69 and we’re below the 70s, so we are getting a lot closer to fully vaccinating the age 65 and up,” Olsen said.

One resident asked why the city has vaccinated a significant number of people below the age of 65, including Hagerty. According to Evanston’s vaccine dashboard, the city has administered 48 percent of its vaccine supply to people 65 and over.

Ogbo explained that 47 percent of the city’s vaccines have gone to healthcare workers, law enforcement and essential workers who qualified under Phases 1a and 1b, even though they are under the age of 65.

Although Evanston has primarily administered the Moderna vaccine, some residents wondered which vaccine they will receive now that two others are also available.

They expressed some concern about taking the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it has a lower efficacy than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

“At this time, no one really has a choice as to what vaccine they are receiving,” Ogbo said. “If people want to opt out of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we understand that, but they also have to keep in mind that if they opt out and we don’t have any other vaccines to administer, it might take weeks and weeks before they get vaccinated.”

According to the FDA, the Johnson &Johnson vaccine has a 72 percent efficacy rate. Public health experts have emphasized that no one participating in research trials for any of the vaccines receiving emergency use authorizations have died of COVID-19.

Finally, Hagerty reminded everyone to remain vigilant, even as residents are inoculated.

“Even with the vaccine, we have to remember to continue to wear our masks, to social distance and to avoid large groups of people,” he said. “We can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories:

Mayor Hagerty received vaccine as a frontline worker

Illinois to expand vaccine rollout to residents with pre-existing conditions on Feb. 25

Evanston area residents share COVID-19 vaccination experiences