Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks at a COVID-19 update press conference on Tuesday in Chicago. | Photo: Illinois Information Service

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he has issued an executive order mandating all daycare center workers in Illinois be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly.

Over 55,000 daycare center staff statewide will now be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they have not done so already.

Employees in licensed daycare settings who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week, the governor’s office said.

Increased testing frequency may be required in certain situations.

“Vaccinations offer life-saving protection for the people who receive them and make the community safer for the people who can’t – including the babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine,” Pritzker said.

“By extending vaccine-or-test requirements to those who work at licensed day care centers, we are adding another level of protection for our youngest residents and preventing outbreaks in daycare centers as more and more parents return to work,” he added.

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All daycare center staff in Illinois will be required to receive their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine by December 3, and the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series by January 3.

Any daycare center staff members who are not fully vaccinated by December 3 will have to do, at a minimum, weekly COVID-19 testing until they are fully vaccinated, the governor’s office said.

Licensed daycare centers are child care facilities licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

The centers are operated outside an individual’s home and regularly provide child care for groups of children ages 0-12. There are 2,872 licensed daycare centers in Illinois.

“For continued, ongoing protection of our youth not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, this Executive Order is the best way to protect the lives of thousands of Illinoisans,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

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“Scientific and medical experts have reviewed the data and found the COVID-19 vaccine will avoid serious illness, hospitalization, and even death,” Ezike said.

Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace B. Hou thanked Pritzker for implementing the requirement.

“Thanks to Governor Pritzker’s leadership, the requirement for vaccination will help our daycare workers who are the woven fabrics of our communities across the state put their health first and best protect children,” Hou said.

“Our goals are simple. We want to keep our youth protected from COVID-19 in every way possible,” Hou added.

All Pre-K-12 teachers and staff; all higher education personnel; all higher education students; and healthcare workers in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care facilities, and physician offices, are already required to get vaccinated or be tested weekly.

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Vaccinations are also required for all state employees who work in the state’s congregate facilities, including individuals at the Illinois Departments of Human Services (IDHS), Corrections (IDOC), Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).