Chicago health officials say the city could enter the next phase of its vaccine rollout as early as this month, but who will that include?
Here's a breakdown of what we know so far about Phase 1C and who could be eligible under the expanding guidelines.
When Might Chicago Enter Phase 1C?
Chicago health officials previously announced that the city had targeted an estimated start date for the next phase, Phase 1C, to begin on March 29.
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Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said last week that the city may begin vaccinating those eligible in Phase 1C at an earlier date based on an increase of available COVID vaccine doses.
"We'll make adjustments to that [date] as we always have, as we see how vaccine doses come in," Arwady said. "But honestly, the way [vaccines have] 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."
Who's Included in Phase 1C?
Phase 1C expands vaccine eligibility to all other essential workers not already eligible as well as Chicagoans over the age of 16 with underlying medical conditions.
Currently, certain high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities are already eligible under Illinois' Phase 1B Plus, but Chicago opted out of entering that phase, citing limited vaccine supply at the time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Phase 1C includes:
- People aged 65—74 years because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 65—74 years who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.
- People aged 16—64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
- Other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.
The CDC notes, however, that Phase 1B and Phase 1C can overlap in some cases.
Where Does Chicago Stand Now?
Chicago remains under Phase 1B, which includes frontline essential workers and residents age 65 and older, as well as health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents who were eligible under Phase 1A of the city's rollout.
The city opted out of expanding to Phase 1B Plus, which would include residents age 16 and older with some underlying health conditions, though Arwady has said that should Chicago receive "a lot more vaccine" in March, it's possible officials could begin vaccinating those with underlying conditions now eligible under the state's Phase 1B Plus.
However, she stressed that the focus currently is to ensure people at the highest risk of exposure are vaccinated.
What About Illinois?
For Illinois, Pritzker said last week that an estimated start date for the state's Phase 1C was not yet available, saying the state is still working to vaccinate residents currently eligible in 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 last week. "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."
Details on the state's Phase 1C eligibility have not been released, with the Illinois Department of Public Health's website saying only that possible groups could include "other essential workers" like those in food service, finance, media, public safety and more.
The state has also not released parameters or a timeline to enter Phase 2, saying only that it "is possible" that it would include the rest of the state's population ages 16 and up.
Though Illinois has yet to announce any estimated dates for future vaccine phases, Pritzker has said 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 late last month. "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.