File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced that Illinois is expanding the current Phase 1B vaccinations at the end of the month to include all residents with underlying conditions and comorbidities.

The expansion, which will go into effect beginning on February 25, is because of a steadily increasing federal vaccine supply, according to a statement from the governor’s office. In addition, the state will also prioritize individuals with disabilities.

The governor’s office said that the Biden administration has increased the vaccine supply by nearly 30 percent, including a 5 percent increase this week.

“As quickly as we receive enough vaccine supply, we need to waste no time in protecting a broader section of our most vulnerable population,” said Governor JB Pritzker Wednesday morning.

“Illinois is moving forward in accordance with guidance from the CDC to expand our eligible population as supply allows, getting us closer to the point when the vaccine is widely available to all who want it. In the meantime, I encourage all Illinoisans to wear our masks and follow the mitigations so that more of our neighbors are healthy and alive when it’s their turn in the vaccination line,” Pritzker said.

Residents ages 16 and older with the following comorbidities or underlying conditions will be eligible: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), diabetes, heart conditions, immunocompromised state from a solid organ transplant, obesity, pregnancy, pulmonary disease and sickle cell disease.

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The Pritzker administration said they will begin working with local health departments and other providers across the state to include these additional higher-risk individuals into their community vaccination plans in the weeks ahead.

Those health departments that have substantially completed their existing Phase 1B population prior to the February 25 statewide expansion date will be able to move forward earlier at the determination of local public health officials and IDPH.

Illinois has used more than 78% of its vaccine on hand, not including the federal government’s long-term care vaccination program and the separate supply for the City of Chicago.

All three vaccination efforts have together delivered approximately 1.5 million shots, including 1.15 million first doses, the state said.

The White House recently announced they are launching a new Community Health Center vaccination program to direct additional vaccine to locations around the country that serve the hardest-hit populations.

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The FDA is scheduled to meet to review the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine candidate on February 26.

That is a one-dose vaccine that does not require extreme cold storage and provided 100 percent protection against hospitalization and death in its clinical trial. The company said it’s on track to deliver 100 million doses to the United States by the end of June.