By Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
The list of COVID missteps, misguided policies and outright failures will be long when all is said and done on this pandemic. An abject failure to protect retirement homes. Kids shut out of schools for nearly a year. Businesses shut down by executive fiat. The imposition of a one-size-fits-all policy for an entire state. The Illinois legislature’s absolute abdication of setting COVID policy.
Add to that the line jumping for COVID vaccines.
The state’s current vaccination category, 1B, includes the 1.9 millions over the age of 65, as well as the 1.3 million younger people who are first-responders or “essential workers” such as teachers, grocery store workers and transit workers. To date, about 150,000 Illinoisans aged 65 and over have been fully vaccinated, while nearly 390,000 residents aged 16-64 are already inoculated.
But groups both inside and outside that list have been demanding they take top priority. Everyone from politicians to teachers to bartenders to transit workers to librarians and more. That is patently absurd. There are a limited number of vaccines and if everybody is at the front of the line, then no one is. That’s why getting the elderly vaccinated has been so problematic.
From the beginning, vaccination priority – indeed, the state’s entire response to the virus, as we’ve argued here and here – should have been for the elderly, those 60 and over, since they comprise a whopping 90 percent of all virus deaths in Illinois: 18,000 out of a total 20,200 COVID deaths.
That still remains true today. On Friday, as Illinois does every day, IDPH announced how many people died from COVID. Sixty-three fatalities were reported, and as usual, the list was dominated by those aged 60 and above – 86 percent to be precise.
With that in mind, there shouldn’t be any question who should be the number one priority for vaccination – Illinois’ 2.3 million elderly over the age of 60. Focus on them, get them out of the way, and Illinois’ COVID death rate will plummet, barring any significant change in the virus. covid missteps
If you don’t buy that argument, look at the other side of the equation. The CDC’s COVID survival rate for those aged 20-49 – many of whom are jumping the line under the state’s vaccination policy – is 99.98 percent. Said in the opposite way, only 0.02% of those who get infected die from the virus.
The total number of cases in Illinois for those aged 20-49 is 582,227. Total deaths in that age group are 832, resulting in a survival rate of 99.857%. (In actuality, the true survival rate is much higher. Illinois’ case reporting does not include, by definition, all the asymptomatic cases not captured by IDPH.)
As long as we’re vaccinating the line jumpers who are younger than 60, we’re vaccinating the wrong people. Every needle in the arm of a younger Illinoisan – barring frontline health care workers – leaves an elderly Illinoisan at great risk. covid missteps