CHICAGO — Illinois is moving into the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan Monday, adding people over 65 years of age and essential workers to the list of residents who are eligible to receive a dose.
Among those qualified to be vaccinated in Phase 1B includes 1.9 million people over the age of 65, as well as over 1.3 million front-line essential workers who are at high risk for exposure.
Those essential workers include everyone from grocery store and manufacturing plant employees to school workers to police and fire personnel. Those who work in food and agriculture are also included in this phase.
Even as the state rolls out a digital portal to help residents find information about getting vaccinated, Governor JB Pritzker and other officials caution there’s not enough vaccine for everyone eligible.
“Because of the federal supply limitation, I want to emphasize that vaccinations are being given by appointment only,” Pritzker said.
Many employers, including Aldi and Amazon, are preparing to offer inoculations at the workplace, whereas other companies are offering incentives or time off to get vaccinated.
The phase is proving to be significantly more challenging for the state as more than 3 million people are now on the list. Phase 1A covered approximately 850,000 front-line health care workers and staff of long-term care facilities.
Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled a mass vaccination site at the Tinley Park Convention Center Monday. While the site opens tomorrow, officials said residents would need to register for an appointment online.
“We’re once again asking for your patience,” Preckwinkle said. “While current supply does not meet demand we’re standing up large scale sites like this one to ensure that we’re ready as vaccine continues to be distributed in Cook County.
The City of Chicago unveiled its own plan to expand vaccinations as part of an effort to promote equity in their distribution Monday.
Included in the plan is to supply doses to employers of grocery stores, factories and schools through February, while expanding distribution to include public transit agencies and manufacturing sites beginning in March.
Hundreds of thousands more people are now eligible to get their first shot in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot got her second one on Monday.
“I’m excited to prove and demonstrate to Chicagoans particularly in Black and brown neighborhoods that this vaccine is safe and that it will save your life,” Lightfoot said.
So far, Black and Latino residents trail in vaccinations. While one in 25 Chicagoans have gotten the vaccine, half of them are white compared to 17% Latino, 15% Black and 14% Asian.
The disproportionate distribution comes as Black and Latino communities continue to suffer from high rates of infection.
To turn things around, the mayor is launching a plan to get more vaccines to communities of color.
“If we do not reverse this trend we will continue to see more black and brown fathers, mothers, grandparents, sons, daughters die of this virus when a vaccine is right here right now for free for all,” Lightfoot said.
The plan is to boost the number of vaccines sent to Black and Latino neighborhoods like Englewood, Little Village, Belmont Cragin and Humboldt Park. More doses for everyone will be needed in this phase because demand is about to exceed supply.