Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is still expected to expand the list of people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1B of its rollout starting Thursday, despite shipping delays that led to a shortage of doses for some cities last week.
The state had announced plans to increase eligibility beginning Feb. 25, allowing for people with "a high-risk medical condition" or comorbidity to be vaccinated. The list includes those with cancer, diabetes, obesity, women who are pregnant, and those with several other conditions.
"In light of a steadily increasing federal vaccine supply, Illinois is making plans to expand Phase 1B eligibility on February 25 to people who have comorbidities and underlying conditions as defined by the CDC," the governor's office said in a release at the time of the announcement. "In addition, Illinois will also prioritize individuals with disabilities."
The list of qualifying high-risk medical conditions (which is subject to change) includes:
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- Chronic Kidney Disease
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Heart Condition
- Immunocompromised State from a Solid Organ Transplant
- Pulmonary Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
Last week, officials were reporting shipping delays across the state and country as extreme winter weather impacted the number of doses being sent, causing shortages in some Chicago suburbs, but Pritzker confirmed the eligibility expansion remains on schedule.
"It set everybody nationally back. Now, as you saw from the doses that were delivered, because we put those numbers out every day, we had one day that was significantly lower, and that was on Saturday," Pritzker said. "And then Sunday, we had a much bigger Sunday than we've ever had before and I actually think that had to do with reporting more than anything else. But we delivered a lot of vaccine into people's arms last week, we're expecting to have 500,000 doses here in the state this week for administration into people's arms. So I feel like, you know, as you've seen, we've gotten to 60, 70, 80,000 per day. And our expectation is that we'll maintain and even grow that number in this coming the week that we're in now, in the coming week after that, especially as we've opened up to one B plus."
The expansion applies to those 16 and older who weren't otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories, the state said, adding that it plans to work with local health departments and other providers as eligibility increases.
Pritzker noted that people eligible in the expanded phase will not need to prove they have a high-risk medical condition, though many will likely receive the vaccine from their primary care doctors.
"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. We are relying on people, the honor system, for people to present themselves who have those comorbidities," Pritzker said. "We also are obviously - the nurses and doctors that are providing those doses to people can ask them questions about their condition to confirm that. And many people are in fact going to their regular health provider who already has their record on file and knows their comorbidity."
Already, more than 3.2 million Illinois residents are eligible for vaccinations under Phase 1B, which includes people age 65 years and older as well as "frontline essential workers."
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.