(The Center Square) – Illinois Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said putting state legislators ahead of transplant patients in the line for COVID-19 vaccines is “ridiculous.”

Illinois has been administering vaccines since Dec. 15. As of Wednesday morning, more than 1 million doses have been administered. Around 1.8 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

McConchie said Wednesday during an unrelated news conference that he’s been critical of the governor’s vaccine efforts, such as advancing prisoners in front of people younger than 65 with life-threatening health conditions.

“My understanding is the governor is making an announcement today in regards to legislators getting vaccines [ahead of others] which I think is ridiculous when yesterday, in my office I had a transplant recipient who necessarily has to take immunosuppressant drugs and is very vulnerable to COVID-19 but because they’re under 65, there are zero mechanisms, there is no ability, for them to get the vaccine even if their doctor says their life depends on it,” McConchie said.

McConchie has also highlighted that despite more than six weeks of administering the vaccines, the rate of the allotted vaccines for long term care residents remains low. That was around 33 percent Tuesday.

"The state is working closely with our partners to vaccinate our long-term care residents and staff as quickly as possible," the Pritzker administration said in a statement Wednesday morning about the allocation of vaccines. "Of the 97,000 doses being reallocated, 80,000 doses from the CVS portion of the PPP and approximately 17,000 doses from the Walgreens portion are being directed to their respective retail stores."

That announcement did not include an update about legislators getting advanced.

The governor is set to hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at a vaccination site in Champaign County.

"The Illinois Senate has been prepared to follow whatever rules Gov. Pritzker and public health experts put in place," said Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Brook. "The General Assembly has important work to do this spring, some of which will certainly have to be done in person. Vaccines would help those most at risk participate without jeopardizing their health."

"Ultimately this is a personal, individual decision," Harmon said. "I would encourage those with underlying medical conditions to seek out an appointment. At the same time, we have a vaccine shortage and millions of hardworking Illinoisans are waiting to get their shots. I hope that a national COVID strategy under the new Biden administration will bring about a fast, efficient and equitable vaccine distribution process across the country."

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.