Teacher, healthcare worker, and higher education vaccine deadline extended two weeks

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Governor JB Pritzker delivers a COVID update in January of 2021.
Information provided by the Governor’s Office

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (September 5, 2021) – As hospitals and schools work to implement additional COVID-19 testing programs and accountability measures, Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced a two-week extension of vaccination requirements for individuals in high-risk settings.

September 19, 2021

All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all P-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 19, 2021. The original deadline was September 5.

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.

Entities continue to be permitted and encouraged to put in place more stringent vaccination requirements. 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.

“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,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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.”

Original order

To combat the more contagious Delta variant, on August 26, 2021, the Governor announced that all healthcare workers, P-12 teachers and staff, higher education personnel and students would be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to regular testing requirements. The two-week extension to September 19 will allow for more schools and hospitals to implement the new accountability measures. The second doses of either two-dose vaccine must be received by 30 days after the first dose, as directed by vaccine providers.

“Even as our hospitals and schools are taking the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the testing and accountability measures mandated in Executive Order 2021-22, we recognize that some institutions will need additional time in which to establish procedures that will guarantee they are compliant,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Our primary goal is to make sure that healthcare workers, education employees and students are protected, along with their families and communities, and this extension will help us achieve that goal.”

The extension will also allow for more time to put additional testing protocols in place, given that individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine are required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week to prevent further spread. IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) may require increased testing in the event of positive cases. 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 in order to enter healthcare and educational facilities.

Staying in the classroom

“We welcome today’s extension from Governor Pritzker. It is an important step that will help educators and school staff work with management to comply with the vaccine mandate,” said Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery. “To be clear, we believe that the best place for students to learn is in the classroom, and that can best be accomplished by following the science and public health guidelines and getting everyone vaccinated who can be vaccinated. We continue to work toward that goal.”

As of Friday, September 3, 8.4 million Illinoisans (66.2%) have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 6.5 million are fully vaccinated (51.4%). Illinois continues to be a leader in the Midwest in vaccinating its residents, with 61% of children between the ages or 12 and 17, 78.7% of adults and 93.7% of seniors vaccinated to date.

To find a nearby vaccination center, visit vaccines.gov.

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