(The Center Square) – As Illinois rolls out the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan, a shortage of vaccines is slowing the process.
Phase 1B includes about 3.2 million residents, which includes anyone over 65 years old and frontline essential workers such as police and fire personnel, teachers and child care workers, public transit workers, postal workers, and grocery store employees. It also includes food, agricultural and manufacturing workers.
At the unveiling of a mass vaccination site in Tinley Park on Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said vaccinations will be done by appointment only.
“I want to make it clear so people don’t go line up at their local pharmacy or line up at their local health department, we need you to make sure to make an appointment for your vaccination,” Pritzker said.
Illinois is scheduled to receive 126,000 doses of the vaccine next week, less than 4% of the Phase 1B population.
“Until the vaccine supply improves, we will all need to be patient,” Pritzker said.
As the federal supply of vaccines increases and the state receives more vaccines, health officials say the state will launch walk-in locations and expand sites to additional providers like doctor’s offices and urgent care clinics.
Sites run by the National Guard are now vaccinating Illinoisans eligible under Phase 1B. So are sites at Walgreens, Jewel-Osco and CVS. By Feb. 1, additional pharmacies, including Hy-Vee and Kroger, will also begin vaccinations.
Illinois health officials have launched a statewide vaccination appointment page on its website. Israel Rocha, chief executive officer of Cook County Health, said an online appointment will reserve a spot in line.
“The website will only reflect appointments which the vaccine is guaranteed,” said Rocha. “We know there have been in other jurisdictions discussions about how vaccine appointments have been canceled. We are trying to avoid that.”
Appointments for those eligible can be made at www.coronavirus.illinois.gov. IDPH provides a map where residents can find vaccination locations and appointment information.