Chicago will open COVID vaccine eligibility to all residents age 16 and older by President Joe Biden's deadline on April 19, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.
"We will meet that deadline," Lightfoot said at a news conference following Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to a mass vaccination site in Chicago.
"We need more vaccine," Lightfoot continued, but added that she was "confident" the city could open eligibility by April 19.
"We've obviously been thinking about this... for some time and monitoring our progress on a daily, if not multiple time daily, basis," Lightfoot said. "We do want to be aligned with the president's objective but understanding that we need more vaccine."
"And I want to be clear that when we open up on April 19, that doesn't mean that very day, everybody's going to get access to vaccines," she added. "There will be some lag. We want people to go and sign up on their turn, but given the supply of vaccines, it may be a few weeks or so before they get an appointment to be able to come in. So, we just caution them to be patient and in the meantime, to be diligent."
Biden announced the new deadline for states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine on Tuesday, moving up his previously targeted date of May 1 by just under two weeks.
Biden's new deadline came as most states, including Illinois, have already announced plans to open eligibility ahead of the original May 1 deadline.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last month that on April 12, "all state-supported mass vaccination sites, local health departments, pharmacy partners – in short, every jurisdiction that receives vaccine from the State of Illinois’ allocation – will be instructed to move to widespread eligibility."
The following week, the Illinois Department of Public Health authorized any counties in the state seeing low COVID vaccine demand to begin vaccinating all residents 16 and older at their immediate discretion in order to "address a concerning possible trend in increasing COVID hospitalizations and case rates."
IDPH said Monday that more than 80 of Illinois' 102 counties have expanded eligibility under that guidance.
But Chicago receives its supply of vaccine from the federal government allocated separately from the state. As such, the city operates on its own framework and timetable.
Chicago entered Phase 1C of COVID vaccinations on March 29, expanding eligibility from health care workers, seniors and some frontline workers in Phases 1A and 1B to include all remaining essential workers like restaurant staff, bartenders, hair stylists and more, along with residents who have qualifying underlying health conditions.
For a look at everything you need to know about Chicago's Phase 1C, click here.
When Pritzker announced Illinois would open eligibility to all adults on April 12, Lightfoot said the city would not expand along with the rest of the state, citing low supply.
"While we are hopeful that we can expand eligibility to include all residents relatively soon, the ability to do so will depend on vaccine supply," a spokeswoman for Lightfoot said in a statement on March 18. "We have established a comprehensive and efficient vaccine distribution system and will be ready when vaccine supply increases, and if that happens sooner than expected it's possible we could adjust our timeline."
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live broadcast that same day that the city would "for sure expand to everyone" by Biden's original deadline of May 1 but did not offer a specific date on which the city would open eligibility.
Chicago officials had previously estimated that the city would enter Phase 2, which opens eligibility to all Chicagoans age 16 and older, on May 31, though that timeline would have put the city behind both the state and Biden's deadline.
Pritzker said last month that he hoped Chicago officials would expand quickly.
"Look, the city of Chicago gets separate shipments from the federal government separate from the rest of the state," he said. "It represents 21% of the population of the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago does, and it can make decisions on its own; it has the ability to do that."
"I hope that it will move expeditiously toward opening up even more. That's what we're doing across the rest of the state of Illinois. And I think that it will be hard for the city if people… who live just beyond the city borders are able to get an appointment to go get vaccinated, but people who are within the city may not be able to because they haven't opened that up," he continued.
For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.