COVID vaccine

Phase 1C of COVID Vaccinations Could Begin in March, Officials Say

Chicago officials have already said Phase 1C could come at the end of March

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Phase 1C of coronavirus vaccinations could come next month, according to Chicago officials, but will depend on how many vaccine shipments Illinois receives in coming weeks.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has said Phase 1C could come at the end of March 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."

Arwady added that should Chicago receive "a lot more vaccine" in March, it's possible that officials could begin vaccinating those with underlying conditions. 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, Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the question Wednesday saying he's "anxious" to get to subsequent phases but doesn't have a timeline.

"I don't want to speculate. It's very hard to say exactly because I don't have a projection out far enough to really know, but 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."

Illinois on Thursday moved into a new phase called Phase 1B Plus, which expands eligibility to those with high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, among others. The list also includes those with obesity and women who are pregnant.

The expansion applies to those 16 and older who weren't otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories.

Chicago, along with several suburbs and health care systems, opted to not enter the expanded phase, citing limitations with supply.

Pritzker said he was optimistic as the state's doses continue to increase and expressed hope with a third potential vaccine nearing approval.

"That will add more to our vaccine doses available as Illinois expands our eligible population to the most medically vulnerable in accordance with the CDC guidelines," Pritzker said.

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.

Already, more than 3.2 million Illinois residents were 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.

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