Pritzker receives COVID booster shot; says no lift of indoor mask mandate imminent

Politics

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — As many Illinoisans look for answers on when the state’s mask mandate could be lifted, Governor JB Pritzker on Tuesday encouraged residents to get a COVID-19 booster shot by getting his own. 

Ahead of plans to depart for the United Kingdom Tuesday on a weeklong hunt for climate-friendly investment and to tout Illinois’ new clean-energy law at the global climate change summit in Scotland, Pritzker said he is keeping the indoor mask mandate in place. The governor adds that he is likely to sign off on changes to a decades-old law some have used to get around vaccination mandates.

On Tuesday, the governor pushed a simple message: vaccine boosters are available and accessible in the interim. 

Health officials approved mix-and-match shots allowing eligible adults to pick a booster from Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. Pritzker received the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine back in March. He switched to Pfizer for his booster.

“The Pfizer has been recommended to me before and so I thought I’ll try another one,” Pritzker said.

With the state on the verge of beginning vaccinations for children 5-11 years old, many parents wonder if Illinois will require vaccination in schools. 

“Here in Illinois, that requirement is something that would go through the legislature,” Pritzker said.

Thus far, Springfield has not taken up the issue, but Pritzker says it’s possible.

“We require lots of vaccinations, as you know, when kids go to school already to make sure that kids don’t get polio, to make sure they don’t get measles and mumps and rubella and so on,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said he might lift the indoor mask requirement in time for the holidays, but it’s too soon to do so now.

“What we’re trying to evaluate is are the hospitalization numbers increasing, decreasing, or staying the same,” Pritzker said. “We want them decreasing. They’re not currently, just to be clear. New hospitalizations are flat. That is not a good sign.”

Pritzker adds that hospital numbers must improve before he removes the indoor mask requirement outside of schools. Illinois’ seven-day rolling test positive positivity average is 2.3%, and 70% of people age 12 and older are vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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