Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health extended the deadline for all healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all P-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students to get a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or else face weekly testing by two weeks.
The deadline now Sept. 19. The extended deadline came at the request of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, as well as education leaders including the Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Principals Association, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“Vaccines remain our strongest tool to protect ourselves from COVID-19, the Delta variant, and most crucially, to maintain our health care system’s ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help,” Pritzker said in a news release. “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.”
The two-week extension will allow for more schools and hospitals to implement the new accountability measures, according to the governor’s office, along with installing testing procedures for those that are unable or unwilling to get vaccinated. The second doses of either two-dose vaccine must be received by 30 days after the first dose, as directed by vaccine providers.
“I deeply appreciate how hard schools are working to protect students and educators while offering the highest quality in-person learning experience,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Our school leaders said they needed more time to plan and communicate, and I thank Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike for providing this extension. While testing is an option for all school personnel, vaccination is the safest and most effective defense against COVID-19. I encourage everyone who works with our students to use this extra time to get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago Transit Authority announced all of its employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 25.
“From the onset of the pandemic, the CTA has been an essential service provider for the City of Chicago, and our number one priority has been and always will be the health and well-being of our employees and customers,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said in a statement.
“In order for us to continue safely serving the Chicago area, it is now time for the remainder of our workforce to join the nearly 200 million Americans who are fully-vaccinated to help fight off these variants and protect our loved ones and others who cannot be vaccinated,” Carter said.
Employees who do not provide proof of vaccination by the Oct. 25 deadline will face discipline in accordance with the CTA guidelines, the agency said.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report