Gov. Pritzker announced that Illinois residents of all ages with pre-existing conditions are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, Lake and McHenry County health departments both said they won’t be expanding due to limited supply of vaccine.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Health said that the expansion of Phase 1B goes into effect today.
“With significantly increased supply on the way from the federal government and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine poised for approval, the Pritzker administration launched Phase 1B+ and has asked all local health departments and providers to begin vaccinating this medically vulnerable population as soon as possible,” the governor’s office said in a statement Thursday.
The expansion includes residents 16 and older with disabilities or underlying conditions who aren’t otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories.
“The state has made substantial progress toward vaccinating health care workers, seniors in long-term care facilities and others who are already eligible for the vaccine,” the statement said. Illinois vaccinated a record 130,000 people on Wednesday.
“As states and cities across the country expand eligibility for the vaccine, it’s vital that the most medically vulnerable like those with heart disease, lung disease and cancer have access to the vaccine, regardless of their age,” Pritzker said.
“I’m thrilled to see that we can effectively administer more than 100,000 doses a day, and with the federal supply projected to hit 100,000 doses delivered daily in mid-March, we must be prepared to vaccinate this population as quickly as possible,” he added.
The expanded list of eligible conditions follows CDC guidelines and includes cancer, chronic kidney disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, heart conditions, immunosuppressed states from a solid organ transplant, smoking, obesity, pregnancy, pulmonary diseases and sickle cell disease.
State-supported sites outside of Cook County will begin taking appointments for the Phase 1B “plus” group.
A complete list of those sites can be found here. State officials said appointments will remain limited as federal supply continues to steadily ramp up.
The Lake County Health Department said in a statement that they will not be expanding to the Phase 1B “plus” group until 60-70% of the current Phase 1B is vaccinated.
The McHenry County Department of Health said they will also continue focusing their efforts on vaccinating the current Phase 1B, which includes residents 65 and older and frontline essential workers, due to the lack of vaccine supply.
Despite both counties saying they will not expand to the Phase 1B “plus” group, those who are part of that group are still eligible and could be vaccinated at pharmacies or other places that receive vaccines directly from the state or federal government and not the local health department.
Beginning in mid-March, an additional 100,000 doses of vaccine per day are expected to be allocated to Illinois by the federal government.
The FDA is expected to grant Emergency Use Authorization for the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which will bring another 100 million doses nationwide.