Peoria Health Department leader says demand for vaccine is high but doses are low

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Thousands of people in central Illinois are waiting in line to get their COVID-19 shot.

Peoria Public Health Adminstrator Monica Hendrickson said more than 180,000 people live in the county. Since each person needs two doses of the vaccine, that means hospitals, clinics, and health departments will be keeping track of more than 360,000 appointments.

With demand high, it’s raising a question for many about when they can get the vaccine.

“There is a population base which is those 65 and older without any preexisting conditions. It’s just an age requirement. And then there are those frontline essential workers,” said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson say this group is one of the largest in the region.

“About 33,000 are over the age of 65. Even if half want the vaccine, we’re thinking about 16,000 (could receive it, but) the allocations that we get on a week-to-week basis (allow for) about 2,000,” said Hendrickson.

Some people on the waiting list are getting frustrated wondering why they are having trouble getting a dose if they are eligible.

“It’s kind of Economics 101. Right now, there is a high demand and there’s very little supply,” said Hendrickson.

However, there is hope on the horizon.

Hendrickson said it’s exciting to hear President Joe Biden’s promise more vaccines. On Wednesday, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos helped answer concerns as the state vaccinates group 1-B.

“The president initially had a plan to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days (in) office,” said Rep. Bustos.

Yet, Hendrickson said an exact timeline of when you can get a shot is unknown.

“It’s a moving target,” said Hendrickson.

Group 1-C is next. It consists of people ages 16 to 64 with pre-existing conditions. But, Hendrickson warns it could be weeks before they can get vaccinated.

“Just to get the people that want it in (regard to) age group requirements, you can see that’s going to be eight weeks,” said Hendrickson.

Even with demand high and supply low, Bustos said the vaccine brings hope.

“The vaccine, I think, will be a savior to our nation,” said Bustos.

Hendrickson encourages people to be patient with the vaccination process. She said how fast they move through the phases is determined by the number of vaccines the county gets.

Hendrickson encourages people to continue to mask up and social distance, as they wait for their dose.

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