State to start Phase 1B of vaccine plan Monday

(The Center Square) – More than 3.2 million Illinoisans could start making appointments to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday as state officials begin the initial stages of Phase 1B of Illinois’ vaccine administration plan, but initial supplies of the vaccines will be limited.

Phase 1A of the vaccine plan focused on front line health care workers, such as doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Phase 1B includes residents 65 and older and front line essential workers. People in Phase 1B can begin making appointments on Monday.

Eligible residents will be able to get a vaccine at one of the Illinois National Guard assisted sites, at a site operated by a local health department or at a pharmacy, according to a news release. Walgreens is now online in some sites with CVS and Jewel-Osco expected to come online early next week followed by pharmacies such as Hy-Vee, Mariano’s and Kroger later in the week, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“Illinois is building capacity so that as the vaccine supply increases, we will be ready,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “As the nation awaits greater supplies and we ramp up vaccination sites, every Illinoisan can do their part to fight this pandemic with the tools we know to work – masking and distancing – and over the last 8 weeks we’ve all used those tools and made real progress. Enormous sacrifices are being made to achieve this progress, but those sacrifices are making a real difference.”

The vaccine will be available only by appointment.

“As more vaccine is allocated to Illinois, and more people are eligible to be vaccinated, we are starting to see the finish line coming into focus,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “I am cautiously optimistic with the trends we are seeing in Illinois, but I want to stress how important it is for us to continue our public health actions of wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings. Getting to the end of this pandemic will be about the choices we make. The choice to wear our mask, the choice to keep our distance, and the choice to get vaccinated.”

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