Expanded vaccine availability exceeds demand


Cameron Krasucki

A Champaign County resident receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Church of the Living God on Feb. 20. The vaccine supply now outpaces demand in Champaign County.

By George Phelan, Staff Writer

Despite the expanded eligibility increasing demand, health officials with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and the University are reporting an expected surplus of available vaccines. On April 15, the CUPHD announced that it would be expanding vaccine eligibility to all Champaign County residents 16 years of age or older.
The availability of vaccines is helped in part by the increased number of vaccines that the CUPHD has received.
“In the last two weeks, we have seen a much higher allocation of vaccines for Champaign County, which has made it a lot easier for anyone 16 and older to get an appointment within the same week,” said Awais Vaid, deputy administrator and epidemiologist of the CUPHD. “Two weeks back, we were getting about 2,000 to 3,000 vaccines a week, but last week we got about 10,000 doses of the vaccine.”
According to Vaid, this increase in doses, all of which are either Pfizer or Moderna, was not impacted by the recent halt to distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to health concerns.
“We did not receive much of Johnson & Johnson at all when it was available,” Vaid said.
With the supply exceeding demand currently, the CUPHD is planning to open vaccine clinics at C-U high schools starting next week.
For Dr. Robert Parker, the director of McKinley Health Services, there’s also no question that supply is currently exceeding student demand.
“If a student wants to get a vaccination today, we have open slots right now,” Parker said.
Parker roughly estimates that about 10,000 students have been vaccinated through the University.
“Because demand is softening, CUPHD is saying, ‘We’ll keep our vaccines in deep freeze’,” Parker said, describing how the CUPHD has responded to the drop in student demand.
The University also plans to continue delivering second doses of the vaccine to students even after the end of the semester, so that students don’t need to worry about not being able to receive a second dose. If students must return home before receiving their second dose, then they will be able to arrange a second dose appointment with the health authorities of their home county.
With roughly 38% of the eligible population currently fully vaccinated, the struggle going forward will center on outreach toward those who have not yet received the vaccine.
“The challenge right now is that most of the people who really wanted the vaccine have either already gotten the vaccine or they have been scheduled,” Vaid said. “Now the challenge is to encourage people, to educate people who are not yet willing to get the vaccine or are unaware that the vaccine is available.”
Both the CUPHD and the University are launching outreach programs to educate residents about the vaccine’s safety and eligibility.

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