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Illinois expanding Phase 1B vaccine eligibility

By Tim Kirsininkas
Capitol News Illinois
updated: 2/24/2021 11:33 AM

Illinois will move ahead with plans to expand vaccine eligibility under Phase 1B of its vaccination plan later this week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.

The state has administered over 2.2 million doses to date, with 4.4 percent of the state's population being fully vaccinated.

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 front-line essential workers.

The Perry County Health Department is rescheduling vaccination appointments from Feb. 16 and 17, which were canceled due to the storm.

The department said Monday that the county now has a total of 3,140 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 24 new cases determined over the weekend. Of the 3,140, 45 are currently active cases. Fifty-nine residents have died from COVID-19 and 3,036 patients have recovered and been released from isolation.

Meanwhile, 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.

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.