March 04, 2021

Suburban health departments not ready to expand vaccine eligibility

Vaccine supply is too low to expand access to those under 65 with medical conditions, suburban health officials say

Suburban health departments aren’t going along with Illinois’ plan to expand vaccine eligibility Thursday to people under 65 who have medical conditions.

Suburban Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Will county health officials, as well as Chicago health officials, say the vaccine supply is too low to allow access to more people. Many essential workers and people 65 and older still are having difficulties getting the vaccine after becoming eligible a month ago.

“Given our limited supply of vaccine, we need to make a local decision that will best serve the needs of our residents,” Lake County Health Department officials said in a statement.

There is no specific timeline when medically vulnerable residents will be able to get vaccines through those health departments.

Other vaccine providers in those counties, such as pharmacy chains and hospital groups, are not affected by the health departments’ decisions.

Gov. JB Pritzker two weeks ago announced the eligibility expansion to those who have medical conditions that place them at a high risk for severe cases of COVID-19, including people with cancer, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other lung diseases, diabetes, heart problems, weakened immunity after a solid organ transplant, obesity, pregnancy and sickle cell disease.

Meanwhile, state health officials announced 43,282 more vaccinations today as the state received an additional 50,710 doses of the vaccine.

So far, 1,664,128 Illinois residents and workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records.

IDPH officials also announced 27 more COVID-19 deaths, as well as 1,665 new cases of the disease.

The state’s death toll from the virus is now at 20,330, while 1,177,320 Illinoisans have been infected since the outset of the pandemic.

Hospitals statewide are reporting 1,488 patients are currently being treated for the respiratory ailment. Of those hospitalized, 361 are in intensive care, according to IDPH records.