Illinois Is Expanding Vaccine Eligibility To More Essential Workers Starting Monday

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose
A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose on February 17, 2020. Starting Monday, more essential workers in Illinois will be eligible to receive their shots. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose
A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose on February 17, 2020. Starting Monday, more essential workers in Illinois will be eligible to receive their shots. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Illinois Is Expanding Vaccine Eligibility To More Essential Workers Starting Monday

Before making all Illinois residents aged 16 and older eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 12, the state is first gradually expanding the professions qualified to receive their shots.

Starting Monday, higher education staff, government workers and the media are eligible to get vaccinated.

On March 29, Illinois will qualify food and beverage workers, construction trade workers and religious leaders as eligible for the vaccine.

“While we will continue to prioritize individuals who are 65 years and older, as well as health care workers and individuals with underlying medical conditions, we want to maintain our momentum going forward and continue to increase our march towards herd immunity,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration said that the state received more than 800,000 shots this week alone from the federal government, and it’s expecting to be receiving 1 million shots per week in April.

Pritzker is also preparing to open more of the state’s economy and increase capacity at public spaces like restaurants and events once 70% of seniors are vaccinated and there’s no evidence of a spike in cases.

This comes as Cook County announced its plan to focus vaccinations in the suburbs toward 32 communities, which will get priority in the coming weeks for appointments.

“We are committed to an equitable distribution of the vaccine with an emphasis on communities that have been most dramatically impacted by COVID to help allow all of our Cook County residents to return to normal life as soon as possible,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Suburban Cook will also start allowing people with some underlying conditions to get vaccinated starting Monday. About 70% of residents 65 and over in suburban Cook have already gotten at least one vaccine dose.

Chicago, meanwhile, which receives its own vaccine supply from the federal government, is allowing all essential workers and those 16 and older with underlying health conditions to get vaccinated starting March 29.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.