COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expansion kicked off Thursday in parts of Illinois


CHICAGO — Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine expanded to younger Illinois residents with certain health issues. However, the change in eligibility isn’t happening in Chicago or neighboring cities because city officials said they don’t have enough shots to give out.

“We still have people on the 1a list that have not been vaccinated many people in 1b that haven’t been vaccinated,” said Karen Ayala, Executive Director of DuPage County’s Health Department. “We know people in this expanded category need and deserve to have access to the vaccine. We just don’t have the supply right now.”

Under the Phase 1B plan, people 16-64 years old could qualify for the vaccine if they are dealing with the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Solid organ transplant
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease

Illinois has an estimated 3.2 million people who would qualify in the 1B group.

Because of limited doses, Chicago joins Skokie as well as Cook, Lake, DuPage and Will counties who are not moving forward into the 1B phase. When it comes to pharmacies, Walmarts in Chicago said they will not expand to the 1B phase. Walgreens and Mariano’s said they will follow what the counties are doing.

WGN has heard that Jewel-Osco will follow state guidelines and expand to the 1B phase at their pharmacies.

The United Center’s parking lot will be the next mass vaccination site in Chicago, according to Crain’s.

State officials want people to get vaccinated in their county and are relying on the honor system for people trying to get vaccinated.

Kristina Wilson, the owner of a Chicago-area preschool tells WGN she reached out to the health department about vaccine availability. She says the process has been frustrating and disheartening.

“Until my brother spent 30 hours basically hitting refresh to get every staff member covered but it shouldn’t take someone’s family member to help early educators out,” she said.

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