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IL will expand Phase 1B vaccine eligibility, Cook County will not

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Mayor Lori Lightfoot release joint statement

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (February 11, 2021) – One day after Governor Pritzker’s administration announced that Phase 1B will be widened to include more of the IL population, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a joint statement saying the lack of vaccine availability prevents Cook County from following the Governor’s expansion of eligibility.

Governor’s plan

On Wednesday, February 10, the state announced that Phase 1B—the COVID-19 vaccination phase IL is currently in—would be expanded to include individuals ages 16–64 with “comorbidities and underlying conditions as defined by the CDC” as well as disabled individuals. The expansion will take place starting February 25.

“As quickly as we receive enough vaccine supply, we need to waste no time in protecting a broader section of our most vulnerable population,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Those who are under 65 and live with comorbidities, such as cancer survivors or those living with heart disease, have an elevated risk of serious complications or death if they contract COVID-19. Illinois is moving forward in accordance with guidance from the CDC to expand our eligible population as supply allows, getting us closer to the point when the vaccine is widely available to all who want it. In the meantime, I encourage all Illinoisans to wear our masks and follow the mitigations so that more of our neighbors are healthy and alive when it’s their turn in the vaccination line.”

The list below details the comorbidities and underlying conditions included in the expansion, and is subject to change:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Condition
  • Immunocompromised State from a Solid Organ Transplant
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Sickle Cell Disease

Cook County and Chicago response

In response to the news from the Governor, Cook County and the City of Chicago released the following statement on Thursday, February 11:

Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. That said, our greatest challenge in doing so is the very limited supply of vaccine we are receiving. While we are making progress every day with vaccinating people in 1a and 1b, at this time we are not being supplied with enough doses that would allow us to expand eligibility in these phases.

Doing so in Chicago and Cook County would add well over one million additional people to 1b, and the result would be that those currently eligible, including seniors, frontline essential workers and those in our most heavily COVID-burdened communities, would have an even harder time getting a vaccine.

These phases were established after careful study and consideration, and are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We recognize the Governor must make tough choices and consider needs across this diverse state, but given the limited supply of vaccine, we must also make the tough choices as the leaders of the most populous city and county in the state. We look forward to expanding eligibility as vaccine supply improves.

As of Thursday, February 11, an estimated 70,000 individuals in Cook County had received a COVID-19 vaccine of the roughly 600,000 eligible under Phase 1B guidelines.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced South Suburban College as a new vaccination site on Thursday, February 11. She addressed questions regarding her and Mayor Lightfoot’s statement. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

In a press conference introducing South Suburban College as a public vaccination site, Preckwinkle addressed the decision and said, “Expansion to a larger group at this time is simply not fair to those who were prioritized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At this time, we simply can’t even predict when we’ll be ready to move beyond those 65 and older and essential frontline staff.”


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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.