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Pritzker announces Phase 1B, with an emphasis on racial equity, age range lowered

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021

* Press release…

Building on guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Governor JB Pritzker announced guidelines for the next stage of COVID-19 vaccine distribution across Illinois – Phase 1B.

“ACIP’s guidance serves as the foundational blueprint for Illinois’ Phase 1B plan, with one key adjustment: here in Illinois we are more strongly pursuing equity in the distribution of our vaccinations,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “For people of color, multi-generational institutional racism in the provision of healthcare has reduced access to care, caused higher rates of environmental and social risk, and increased co-morbidities. 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.”

“With limited amounts of vaccine available at this time, it is important to prioritize individuals who are at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 and those at greatest risk of severe illness or death,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Generally, Latinx and Black populations have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with data showing related deaths at younger ages. We are hopeful that by lowering the eligibility age to 65 years we can help reduce this disparity.”

Phase 1B will begin when Phase 1A is substantially complete. It will include all Illinois residents age 65 years and older and “frontline essential workers,” as outlined by ACIP. In order to reduce COVID-19 mortality and limit community spread in Black and Brown communities, Illinois reduced the age eligibility in Phase 1B by 10 years from ACIP’s recommendation. Currently, the average age of COVID-19 death is 81 for White residents, 72 for Black residents and 68 for Latino residents.

The frontline essential workers designation includes many residents who carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure because of their work duties, often because they are unable to work from home, and/or they must work closely to others without being able to socially distance. Communities of color are disproportionately represented in many of these industries. The category defined by the federal government as frontline essential workers, which the CDC estimates as about 30 million Americans, includes first responders; education workers, including teachers, support staff and childcare workers; manufacturing, distribution and agriculture workers, including grocery store workers; United States Postal Service workers; public transit employees; corrections workers and incarcerated people, and others.

All in all, Phase 1B totals approximately 3.2 million people throughout the state of Illinois.

Prioritizing equity is a critical component of every phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. Lowering the age eligibility and including frontlines essential workers in phase 1B is a pivotal step towards protecting all of Illinois’ elderly residents and Illinoisans who have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and ensuring the benefits of vaccination reach all our communities in a fair manner

As the state enters Phase 1B, the administration will be utilizing every available resource at the state’s disposal to ensure that as many Illinoisans as possible are able to receive the vaccine as quickly as possible. The Illinois National Guard will be assisting in the development of mass vaccination sites and the state will be increasing the number of providers enrolled in the state’s vaccination database to support widespread availability when the time comes.

These efforts are in line with the equity directive released earlier in the pandemic with a focus on ensuring vulnerable and historically marginalized communities receive equitable and informed access to COVID-19 vaccines. The state will continue to proactively expand infrastructure, especially in communities of color, to move these vaccines through Illinois at an even faster pace once there is an increase in the federal distribution pipeline. The IDPH team continues to review ACIP’s recommendations for Phase 1C.

As the state moves forward, it is critical that Illinoisans continue to follow public health mitigations to suppress the spread of the virus until vaccines are available for wider distribution.

Click here for more.

* Accompanying chart…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

12 Comments »
  1. - Essential State Employee - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Where do frontline State Employees (outside those in health care) fall in the phase categories? Will it be 1B or 1C, or even later? Since it doesn’t look like we’ll be included in 1A (despite LaSalle Vets home employees who refuse vaccination).


  2. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    ===Where do frontline State Employees===

    This ain’t Google. Ask your union.


  3. - Comorbidities - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    This letter does not mention people of any age with comorbidities in 1B as was initially communicated. Do we wait longer?


  4. - JB13 - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 12:33 pm:

    This is good news.

    Getting these shots into the arms of as many of our senior residents as possible will make a huge difference in reducing death rates and moving us closer to being able to reopen our society - an overarching goal I know is not shared by all, but a necessity, none the less.

    Thank you, governor. Now, ramp it up. No more excuses.


  5. - rabble - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 12:42 pm:

    Phase 1 has been mighty slow in Illinois. Other states such as Kentucky have already progressed past us.


  6. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 1:37 pm:

    @Wanda -

    Try reading.

    No one is discriminating on the basis of skin color. (Except, perhaps, the virus.) The next phase will include “ALL Illinois residents age 65 years and older and “frontline essential workers”.

    Yes, the reduction from age 75 is due to the fact that the average age of death from COVIC is significantly lower among Latinx and Black populations than in the white population, but the change is not limited to those groups.

    I strongly recommend you read last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine article that discusses such policy choices.


  7. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    ~sigh~

    I meant, of course, COVID.


  8. - Magic Dragon - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 1:58 pm:

    And when do we anticipate phase 1B to begin?


  9. - Ares - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 2:30 pm:

    Good start, but how quickly will the vaccines actually be distributed? Our Nation will need to be able to vaccinate up to 3 million people per day, for the plague to subside.


  10. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    You should Wanda back to the Legal Department.

    Or was that the Law Department, because honestly that sounds like the kind of crack pot legal opinion you normally expect from the City of Chicago.

    Limiting vaccines to people 75 and older would have been inherently discriminatory. It ignores the much lower age of high risk for Black and Latino Americans and that the folks over 75 are disproportionally White.

    Best think Ezike has done yet.


  11. - VoterAtLarge - Wednesday, Jan 6, 21 @ 7:20 pm:

    West Virginia & Arkansas have allowed local, non-chain pharmacies to administer LTC vaccines & their roll-our has been much smoother than other states that are relying on overworked hospitals, county health departments & the already understaffed CVS/Walgreens.

    Local pharmacies have connections with many Long-Term Care sites as they are usually the pharmacy of choice for that facility, and many non-chain pharmacies offer Medicare Part D consultations, which just wrapped up in early December, so why aren’t they being utilized yet like in other states? Why not use the healthcare providers that have already stepped up throughout this pandemic in tandem with calling in the national guard?


  12. - RIJ - Thursday, Jan 7, 21 @ 12:56 pm:

    Very angry that it doesn’t include younger people with severe health conditions. My wife has a severe genetic heart disease, but she’s 56. We have been seriously isolated since March 9, 2019. I leave our property twice a month. My wife only leaves for doctor appointments. No one is allowed in the house. Help us. Please, please help us.


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