SIH expects limited vaccine distribution in December

“We will start working with the local health care partners to get those who are at highest risk the vaccine.” 

By Jason Flynn, Staff Reporter

Southern Illinois Healthcare, whose hospitals have been experiencing staffing difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, could begin to see some relief as plans to distribute vaccines to frontline healthcare workers move forward this month. 

The Pfizer vaccine is expected to receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, doctor in Family Medicine at SIH Marci Moore-Connelley said.

“It’ll be distributed through the local health departments and local health departments will get that supply, which will be very limited to start with,” Connelley said. “We will start working with the local health care partners to get those who are at highest risk the vaccine.” 


The SIH hospital system has about 4,000 employees and on average 150 to 200 employees, about 3.75 to 5 percent of the workforce, have been out  daily due to COVID-19 exposure Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Harre said. 

The staffing shortages have pushed the hospital to delay  elective surgeries that require an overnight stay, create per-diem positions to fill day-to-day gaps  and create contingencies to change the care delivery model in case of a surge. 

“We’re trying to be as creative as possible, and again, the hard thing is we don’t have that crystal ball to tell us where are we going to be in two weeks, where are we going to be in three weeks, so it makes it really difficult to plan,” Harre said. 

417 active COVID-19 cases are being managed in Jackson County as of Dec. 3 which brought the total number of cases in the county up to 2,865 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a press release by the Jackson County Public Health Department. 

32 people in Jackson County have died from the virus, and SIH had 57 COVID-19 in-patients as of December 3 according to their online statistics.

“We are at most days act capacity for our ICU beds,” Harre said. 

Vaccine distribution to the rest of the community is still a few months out Harre said. 


“The initial supply that comes out is going to be very limited, so even our kind of highest risk group that we want to offer it to within the healthcare system, if everybody wanted that vaccine, we would not have enough in that initial shipment to vaccinate all of them,” Harre said. 

Staff reporter Jason Flynn can be reached at or on Twitter at @dejasonflynn. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.