As Illinois enters an expanded Phase 1B, opening up doses to thousands more residents, when might the state move ahead even further, into Phase 1C?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed that question Wednesday saying he's "anxious" get there 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."
Though Illinois has yet to announce planned dates for future vaccine phases, Chicago officials have 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.
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"It may be sooner than expected, but that timeline that we laid out actually continues to look pretty consistent with our numbers," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday. "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. I think if we do get a lot more vaccine in March, maybe more than we were expecting, you know, is it possible we could open up you know providers to get start doing existing patients who are, you know, have underlying conditions? It's possible, but I really we've got to make sure that these highest risk folks are first getting the access to vaccination."
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.
"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 earlier this week. "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."
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.