Chicago and Cook County suburbs will not expand eligibility yet due to a shortage of vaccines.By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — In about two weeks, anyone in Illinois with an underlying health condition or disability will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of their age, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday morning. But Chicago and the Cook County suburbs will not be taking part in the expansion.

The governor said the state’s expansion of Phase 1B vaccination eligibility requirements follows CDC guidelines for people with high-risk medical conditions. Qualifying conditions include:

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  • 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

The list of conditions is subject to change, according to the governor’s office. Pritzker’s office said the state will prioritize people with disabilities.

The expansion includes anyone 16 or older with a qualifying condition who wasn’t previously eligible for a vaccine in Phase 1A or 1B.

Previously, the only people who qualified for vaccinations under Phase 1A and Phase 1B of the state’s distribution plan included healthcare workers,
“frontline essential” workers, long-term care facilities, and people age 65 and older. Before the change announced by Pritzker, those under age 65 with underlying health conditions would have had to wait until Phase 1C of the state’s vaccination plan.

“Those who are under 65 and live with comorbidities have an elevated risk of serious complications, or even death, if they contract COVID-19,” Pritzker said Wednesday morning after touring a vaccination site in Quincy, Illinois. “So as quickly as we receive enough vaccine supply, we need to waste no time in protecting them.”

The governor’s office said the state is making the change because of an increased supply of vaccine doses from the federal government.

The city of Chicago, which receives vaccine doses from the federal government separately from the state, will not be expanding vaccine eligibility yet, due to the limited supply of doses already available. Suburban Cook County also will not expand eligibility.

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“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,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a joint statement Thursday morning. “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.”

Lightfoot and Preckwinkle said they look forward to expanding eligibility for the vaccine once supplies increase.

Local health departments that substantially complete vaccinations for their existing Phase 1B population will be able to expand to people under age 65 with underlying health conditions before Feb. 25 after consulting with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

So far, Illinois has received a total of 2,152,425 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and has administered 1,480,079 doses. A total of 327,413 people have been fully vaccinated in Illinois, or 2.57% of the state’s population. Over the past week, Illinois is averaging 55,135 doses administered per day.

Meantime, IDPH reported 2,825 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as well as 53 more deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 1,152,995 cases, including 19,739 deaths.

The statewide 7-day average case positivity rate stands at 3.3%, tied for the lowest it’s been since Oct. 4, and less than half of the rate reported by IDPH one month ago. The state’s infection rate has been falling steadily for more than a month.

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As of Tuesday night, 2,082 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Illinois, including 464 in the ICU and 232 on ventilators. It’s the lowest overall COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois since Oct. 17.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff