SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced a two-week extension of vaccination requirements for those in high-risk settings Friday.
By Sept. 19, all healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, P-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students, will be required to receive an initial dose of COVID-19 vaccination.
The extended deadline came at the request of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), as well as education leaders including the Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), and Illinois Principals Association (IPA), who best understand the localized needs of hospitals and schools implementing their own testing, vaccine and accountability protocols.
“Vaccines remain our strongest tool to protect ourselves from COVID-19, the Delta variant, and most crucially, to maintain our healthcare system’s ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help,” Pritzker said. “While hospitals and schools move forward in good faith, this extension ensures they are prepared to meet this requirement to better protect our most vulnerable residents and children who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated.”
The extension gives schools and hospitals more time to put additional testing protocols in place, given that those who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine are required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week to prevent further spread of the virus. IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) may require increased testing in the event of positive cases.
In order to enter healthcare and educational buildings, healthcare professionals, school workers, and higher education personnel and students who do not provide proof of vaccination will be required to follow the testing protocol.
The executive order does not prohibit any entity from implementing a requirement that personnel, contractors, students, or other visitors be fully vaccinated without providing the alternative to test on a weekly basis consistent with applicable law. Entities will still be allowed and encouraged to put in place more stringent vaccination requirements.