Chicago health officials say the city could enter the next phase of its vaccine rollout as early as this month, but what about the rest of the state?
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that an estimated date was not yet available, saying the state is still working to vaccinate residents under its expanded Phase 1B Plus.
"I don't have a date for you yet again because we're trying to get through we have millions of people still in 1B Plus, 1B and 1A that have not been vaccinated," Pritzker said Friday. "But we want to make sure that we get to a certain level, you know, probably beyond 50% in each of the categories that's allowed before we start to open it up to another category."
Illinois entered Phase 1B Plus in late-February, expanding eligibility to include people with certain underlying conditions and comorbidities, but much of the Chicago area, including the city itself, opted not to join in that expansion, citing a lack of doses.
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Chicago, however, remains on track to enter Phase 1C at the end of March, the city's top doctor said earlier this week, adding that the next phase could begin even earlier than anticipated.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city could begin vaccinating those eligible in Phase 1C at an earlier date, based on an increase of available COVID vaccine doses in the state."
"We'll make adjustments to that as we always have, as we see how vaccine doses come in," Arwady said. "But honestly, the way they've been coming in is about how I've expected them to come in. March is going to look a lot better than February did related to vaccine. And I think April is going to look a lot better than March."
Arwady has said Phase 1C would likely begin March 29 and Phase 2, which includes all residents over the age of 16, could begin May 31.
"It may be sooner than expected, but that timeline that we laid out actually continues to look pretty consistent with our numbers," Arwady said. "If you recall, we really said the end of March, March 29, was where we were guessing we might be at a point to be able to move ahead into 1C and then, the end of May is when we might be able to move ahead to Phase 2 and I haven't seen anything that really suggests major, major differences from that."
Official information on Phase 1C eligibility has not been released by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, based on the Illinois Department of Public Health website. Health officials noted that possible groups could include "other essential workers."
Arwady added that should Chicago receive "a lot more vaccine" in March, it's possible that officials could begin vaccinating those with underlying conditions now eligible under the state's Phase 1B Plus. However, she said the focus currently is to ensure people at the highest risk are vaccinated.
Though Illinois as a state has yet to announce planned dates for future vaccine phases, Pritzker said last week that he's "anxious" to get to subsequent phases.
"I'm anxious, I think like we all are, to get to phase 1C and beyond," Pritzker said during a press conference. "We want to get everybody vaccinated as soon as possible but we're trying to get to all of the most vulnerable populations first."
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.