Ngozi Ezike

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

CHICAGO — Illinois’ top doctor vowed wide availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to the state’s residents, but said it’ll take months for supply to meet demand.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike’s comments in a weekend Chicago Tribune opinion piece come amid complaints of vaccine shortages and difficulties in obtaining appointments. The recent blast of winter weather also delayed shipments, leading to canceled appointments.

“It will be months before our supply comfortably outpaces demand — an obstacle we always expected, and the very reason we have devoted so much time and thought to the phases of prioritization,” Ezike wrote. “Everyone deserves their turn to get the vaccine, and it’s my promise to Illinois that we will get there — as efficiently, quickly and equitably as we can.”

Currently, health care workers, residents ages 65 and older and essential workers are eligible. Illinois officials announced an expansion starting later this month to include people with underlying health conditions, but Chicago and other areas are delaying, citing a vaccine shortage.

More than 2.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois.

State health officials on Sunday reported 1,585 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths.

The Effingham County Health Department announced the COVID-related death of a man is his 80s on Saturday. That brings the number of COVID-related deaths in the county to 80, including 69 confirmed deaths and 11 probable deaths. Ten of those deaths were under the age of 70 and 13 were in the 70 to 75 age group.

ECHD reported four new positive cases of COVID-19 over Friday and Saturday.

The county’s rolling seven-day average case positivity rate continues to remain low. Effingham County’s rate was 2.8 percent as of Feb. 18, while Region 6’s rate was 3.4% for the same period.

This week’s weather impacted COVID vaccine clinics in Effingham County, but the health department stated it still managed to distribute 330 second doses.

Overall, Illinois has reported more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

The Daily News contributed to this story.

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