Pritzker outlines second phase of vaccine distribution

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As Illinois health care workers and long-term residents continue to receive the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is outlining how the next phase of vaccinations will look.

During a press conference Wednesday, Pritzker said the state will follow federal guidelines put forth by Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, except for one change. ACIP recommended everyone over the age of 75 get vaccinated in Phase 1B, but Pritzker is lowering the age by ten years, citing higher mortality rates in Black and Brown communities.

“I believe our exit plan for this pandemic must on balance overcome structural inequalities that has allowed COVID-19 to rage through our most vulnerable communities,” Pritzker said.

According to statistics, the average age of COVID-19 death is 81 for white residents, 72 for Black residents and 68 for Latino residents.

Included in Phase 1B of the vaccinations are front-line essential workers. The federal government defines front line workers as first responders, education workers including teachers, manufacturing, distribution and agriculture workers, including grocery store employees, postal workers, public transit employees and the prison and jail population.

So far, Illinois has received more than 344,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, excluding Chicago. The state is set to receive 120,000 additional vaccine doses per week.

Illinois as a whole has administered around 207,000 total vaccine doses to date, including this week’s initial round of second doses for the first dose recipients.

Pritzker said the next phase will commence when Phase 1A is “substantially complete” and will involve about 3.2 million Illinois residents.

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