SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that the state will move ahead with plans to expand vaccine eligibility under Phase 1B of its vaccination plan later this week.
A total of 73,181 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered statewide combined Saturday and Sunday. The state has administered over 2.2 million doses to date, with 4.4 percent of the state’s population being fully vaccinated.
In an unrelated Monday news conference, Pritzker said Feb. 25 eligibility expansion will include individuals aged 16 and older who have comorbidities, disabilities and underlying conditions. Residents will not be required to provide proof of an underlying condition in order to receive a vaccine, he said.
“We’re not making people walk in with papers from their doctor to prove that they have diabetes or to prove that they have cancer,” Pritzker said. “We are relying on the honor system.”
Residents currently eligible for a vaccine under Phase 1B include people aged 65 and older and frontline essential workers.
The state’s seven-day rolling average for administered vaccinations stood at 55,499 Monday. The average vaccination rate has dropped over the past week as the state saw inclement weather and shifted focus to administering second doses to those who have already received their first.
“We saw a small delay last week because of weather nationally in the delivery of vaccines,” Pritzker said Monday. “But now [health departments] are seeing many more second doses being delivered to them than they’ve seen before.”
As of Monday, Illinois ranked 19th in per capita vaccine distribution with 14 percent of the state’s population having received at least one dose, according to data from The New York Times. The state had previously ranked as low as 47th nationally in late January, according to that database. Roughly 4.5 percent of the population has received two doses.
Pritzker said the initial lag in vaccinations was due to a decision to stay in Phase 1A longer than other states.
“We wanted to make sure in Phase 1A that health care workers were covered completely,” he said.
Pritzker said he expects the state will receive up to 500,000 vaccine doses from the federal government this week, an increase from the nearly 300,000 per week the state has received in weeks past.
Additionally, a new single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson could be granted authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 26. If approved, the new vaccine could make millions more doses available to states in the coming weeks.
More than 850 vaccination sites are currently open across the state, with more expected to come online in the coming weeks as the state builds vaccination capacity and the federal government works to increase production to meet national demand.
New cases locally remain low
In Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside the rate of new cases of COVID-19 has slowed dramatically compared to late 2020 and early 2021, reflecting a trend seen throughout Illinois where the positivity rate has remained below 3 percent for a second straight week.
According to the Cook County Department of Public Health, there were just nine Brookfield residents either confirmed or probable for COVID-19 during the week ending on the morning of Feb. 23.
Brookfield hasn’t seen single-digit cases numbers in any one-week period since mid-July 2020. Since the pandemic began last March, 1,595 residents of Brookfield have contracted COVID-19, with 12 residents dying as a result of the disease.
New cases also plummeted in North Riverside to just four in the prior week as of the morning of Feb. 23. It’s been six months since North Riverside experienced a single week where there have been fewer than five new cases. During the first three weeks of February, the village averaged 15 new cases per week.
There have been 515 residents of North Riverside who have contracted COVID-19. Four village residents have died of COVID-19.
For two weeks running, according to the Cook County Department of Public Health, Riverside has added 11 new cases, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 816, with three fatalities.
Still, that weekly figure is more in line with the kinds of totals Riverside saw in September, prior to the fall spike.
Vaccination site location and appointment information is available at coronavirus.illinois.gov.
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.