Gov. Pritzker speaks at new Aurora vaccine site

Illinois health officials reported 1,740 new COVID-19 cases and 42 deaths Thursday.

Video Transcript

JB PRITZKER: Well, good morning, everybody. And thank you very much to Mayor Irvin. I can't tell you how great it is to be back here in Aurora. Every time I come, I feel very welcome. And it's in part because of your mayor, but also because of many of you. It is a real pleasure.

And to Pastor Jessie Hawkins of the Cathedral of Grace St. John, I am very, very grateful for your hosting us today here. It's a perfect place for this. Thanks also to my colleagues in state government, to representatives Barbara Hernandez and Stephanie Kifowit, and to Maura Hirschauer, and to our senator Linda Holmes. And Linda-- and I don't see Karina Villa here this morning, but I know that she would be here if she could be.

I also want to acknowledge the amazing work of the Quad County Urban League and its illustrious CEO Theodia Gillespie, who you'll hear from momentarily. Thank you for all that you do to promote equity throughout this entire region. To Kane County Health Department Interim Director Kathy Foster and to DuPage County Health Department Director Karen Ayala. VNA Health-- amazing. VNA Health Care's Executive Director Linnea Windel and to the Mercy Medical Center team, the staff of the city of Aurora, and everyone who made this possible here.

What you're doing is really best-in-class outreach. And I am very, very grateful for it. It's a model. Now thanks also to the great work of the 97 local public health departments all across the state of Illinois and the health care professionals across our state. Illinois has administered more than 2 and 3/4 million doses to our residents.

That's 1 in 6 Illinoisans who've already received their first dose of vaccine and those also who are waiting for their second dose or have already received it and are fully vaccinated. We're really proud of the progress that we've made. One of the top 10 most populous states in the United States, and we're number one in daily vaccinations on a per capita basis.

[APPLAUSE]

I've said from the beginning that we have to be intentional about our effort to vaccinate Black and Brown Illinoisans and communities that have been left out and left behind for far too long. We must consistently work to overcome the health care inequities that have existed for a very long time, long before COVID-19, inequities that I'm committed to eliminating. Even if everyone who wants to be vaccinated today were to receive it, that wouldn't be enough for us to reach herd immunity.

So it's important that we get the message out to those who are vaccine-hesitant, that vaccines are safe, and they offer effective protection against serious COVID illness and death. All three of the approved vaccines were 100% effective in trials for stopping hospitalizations and deaths. Think about that-- 100% effective in all the trials. That's tremendous.

And we've seen tens of millions of people get vaccinated with no trouble at all. It feels good to get protected, and it means that we're getting closer to the end of this pandemic. While the choice to get vaccinated is just that, a choice, we need to be sure that people have the facts, and they act in their own best interests. It could save their life.

That's why I put a call to action out to our local health departments to expand local outreach, especially for those most vulnerable. To get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, we have to not only increase the pace of vaccinations but also do the outreach to help those who might not have the technology or the transportation available to them, or who've been misinformed about the nature of vaccines, or who are otherwise distrusting of government or the health care system.

The Black Vax Initiative is an amazing example of this tremendous work to overcome these challenges. People are more likely to get vaccinated when they hear about it from people that they trust. By working with pastors and other community leaders, Aurora is recognizing and respecting that reality, and I commend you for that.

In addition, people of color disproportionately suffer from pre-existing conditions which makes COVID-19 more dangerous for them. Black Vax Aurora recognizes this and is fully open to people of all ages who have cancer, and diabetes, or heart disease, or COPD, or other pre-existing conditions. That's important to address true equity in vaccine administration.

Getting an appointment still takes a frustrating amount of effort because we still have not received enough vaccine from the federal government. There are some older people or residents with disabilities who may need assistance making their appointments.

And I want to ask everyone that's here and everyone that's listening to please reach out to a parent, or a grandparent, or an uncle, or an aunt, or a neighbor, or anyone that they think might be having trouble accessing appointments over the internet or by phone. Please offer to help them out. Across the state of Illinois, people have reached out to their neighbors and their friends to do the right thing, to help them out. It's what has made this state so great. And I hope that you'll continue to do that as we try to vaccinate everybody in Illinois.

As the weeks have progressed, we've seen increasing amounts of vaccine distributed by the manufacturers. And with this third vaccine now in the lineup from J&J and with public commitments from the White House to send an average of at least 100,000 doses per day to Illinois by mid-March, we are getting closer and closer to widespread availability that we all want. So folks, things are getting better. This pandemic will end. And we'll get there faster by looking out for one another. And in the meantime, please mask up and stay vigilant.