State prepares to expand Phase 1B eligibility beginning Thursday
Vaccine eligibility to extend to individuals with underlying conditions
By TIM KIRSININKAS
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that the state will move ahead with plans to expand vaccine eligibility under Phase 1B of its vaccination plan later this week, including the site at Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville.
A total of 73,181 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered statewide combined Saturday and Sunday. The state has administered over 2.2 million doses to date, with 4.4 percent of the state’s population being fully vaccinated.
The state announced Monday that two new mass vaccination sites in Rockford and Collinsville will open on Tuesday. The two new sites bring the number of mass vaccination sites to 14 statewide.
Each site will be managed through a partnership with Illinois Department of Public Health and the Emergency Management Agency and will be supported by members of the Illinois National Guard.
“These new mass vaccination sites and mobile teams will build on our partnership with local health departments and help ensure we administer doses as quickly as we receive them,” Pritzker said in a Monday statement.
In an unrelated Monday news conference, Pritzker said the Thursday eligibility expansion will include individuals aged 16 and older who have comorbidities, disabilities and underlying conditions. Residents will not be required to provide proof of an underlying condition in order to receive a vaccine, he said.
“We’re not making people walk in with papers from their doctor to prove that they have diabetes or to prove that they have cancer,” Pritzker said. “We are relying on the honor system.”
Residents currently eligible for a vaccine under Phase 1B include people aged 65 and older and frontline essential workers.
The state’s seven-day rolling average for administered vaccinations stood at 55,499 Monday. The average vaccination rate has dropped over the past week as the state saw inclement weather and shifted focus to administering second doses to those who have already received their first.
“We saw a small delay last week because of weather nationally in the delivery of vaccines,” Pritzker said Monday. “But now [health departments] are seeing many more second doses being delivered to them than they’ve seen before.”
As of Monday, Illinois ranked 19th in per capita vaccine distribution with 14 percent of the state’s population having received at least one dose, according to data from The New York Times. The state had previously ranked as low as 47th nationally in late January, according to that database. Roughly 4.5 percent of the population has received two doses.
Pritzker said the initial lag in vaccinations was due to a decision to stay in Phase 1A longer than other states.
“We wanted to make sure in Phase 1A that health care workers were covered completely,” he said.
Pritzker said he expects the state will receive up to 500,000 vaccine doses from the federal government this week, an increase from the nearly 300,000 per week the state has received in weeks past.
Additionally, a new single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson could be granted authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a Friday hearing. If approved, the new vaccine could make millions more doses available to states in the coming weeks.
More than 850 vaccination sites are currently open across the state, with more expected to come online in the coming weeks as the state builds vaccination capacity and the federal government works to increase production to meet national demand.
The statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate stood at 2.8 percent Monday as public health officials reported 1,246 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 out of 37,361 test results.
The state’s positivity rate has not moved more than a tenth of a percentage point over the past 11 days.
As of Sunday night, 1,504 individuals were reported hospitalized around the state due to COVID-19. Of those, 377 were in the ICU and 169 were on ventilators.
Public health officials announced 34 deaths due to COVID-19 Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 20,303 since the pandemic began. Illinois has recorded a total of 1.1 million cases to date.
Vaccination site location and appointment information is available at coronavirus.illinois.gov.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
PHOTO: Vaccines given out earlier this month at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon.