The deadline for Illinois workers in state congregate settings to receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine has been extended again, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office confirmed Friday.
Workers in mandated groups, including those who work at Illinois veterans homes and prisons, will now have another two weeks, until Oct. 26, to receive the first dose of a two-dose vaccination series or a single-dose vaccination.
Second doses of the vaccine must be received by 30 days after the first dose, according to the state requirement.
"This administration continues to work to protect vulnerable residents in our care or custody by ensuring state employees in congregate settings receive the vaccine," Pritzker's office said in a statement. "The state is pleased to have reached agreement with the INA, IFPE, VR-704, and the Trades Coalition. Under these agreements, employees in those bargaining units must now receive their first shot by Oct. 26. This allows the unions time to communicate the agreement to their members and workers to have time to get their shots. We are working diligently to reach agreement with the remaining two unions."
The Illinois vaccine mandate extension comes as the Friday deadline for Chicago employees looms, raising concerns for some leaders as a standoff between the city and some first responders reaches a pivotal point.
Under Chicago's rules, city employees who aren't vaccinated by Friday have to get tested twice a week on their own time and expense until the end of the year, when they will be required to be vaccinated. Any employee not complying with those requirements could face disciplinary action, including and up to termination.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday she ordered her office to file a complaint against Chicago's police union and its president, John Catanzara, "for engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike."
Last month Pritzker announced that his administration reached an agreement with the labor union VR-704, representing approximately 260 state employees, that he said would pave the way for mandatory COVID vaccinations to move forward, the first such agreement made since the governor implemented a vaccine requirement for employees in congregate-living facilities.
The latest state extension was announced Friday as Pritzker and AFSCME continues negotiations.
Employees who do not receive the vaccine, or qualify for a medical or religious exemption, could face discipline up to and including termination under provisions of an executive order issued by Pritzker that required state employees working in congregate facilities to receive the COVID vaccine.
“With new variants among us, the quick spread of COVID in congregate settings in Illinois and across the nation continues to harm the most vulnerable among us,” Pritzker said last month in a statement. “I’m proud to reach this agreement with these critical labor partners, and applaud VR-704 for taking this critical step to combat the virus.”