Suburban health departments do not agree with Illinois’ plan to expand vaccine eligibility starting 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 are still struggling to get the vaccine after becoming eligible a month ago.
“Given our limited supply of vaccines, we must make a local decision that best meets the needs of our residents,” Lake County Health Department officials said in a statement.
Health departments did not give any specific timeline for when medically vulnerable residents will be able to receive vaccinations.
Other vaccine providers in those counties, such as pharmacy chains and hospital networks, are not affected by the decisions of health departments.
Walgreens spokeswoman Emily Delnicki said pharmacies are following state eligibility guidelines and confirmed that people can go to stores outside of their county to get vaccinated.
“When people arrive for appointments, patients must sign an affidavit confirming that they meet their state’s eligibility requirements for the vaccine,” Delnicki said. “Patients must also show valid government identification to confirm their identity at the time of their vaccination appointment. You can choose a different store outside of your county as long as appointments and inventory are available.”
The Kane County Health Department did not respond to requests for information, but says on its website that it is providing COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare workers and essential workers. The website directs people 65 and older to find vaccines at clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices.
At Mount Prospect, Nancy Horton said the search for vaccine appointments for her and her husband has been unsuccessful after several weeks of trying. She hopes that postponing vaccine eligibility for those under 65 will free up doses for herself and others in the 65-and-older category who have been waiting since they became eligible on Jan.25.
“It looks like we are going around in circles,” he said. “You look at the sites every day and you get the same response all the time. It’s totally frustrating not getting information or anything that looks like a hopeful note.”
Governor JB Pritzker announced two weeks ago the expansion of eligibility for those who have medical conditions that place them at high risk for severe COVID-19 cases, including people with cancer, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other diseases pulmonary, diabetes. , heart problems, weakened immunity after a solid organ transplant, obesity, pregnancy, and sickle cell anemia.
“We do not have the vaccine supplies to expand to (Phase) 1B-plus at this time,” said Will County Health Department spokesman Steve Brandy. “We hope we can do it soon.”
Meanwhile, state health officials announced 43,282 more vaccinations Tuesday, as the state received an additional 50,710 doses of the vaccine. State officials said they expect 500,000 new doses by the end of the week.
So far, 1,664,128 people in Illinois have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to records from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
IDPH officials also announced 27 more deaths from COVID-19, as well as 1,665 new cases of the disease.
The death toll from the virus in the state is now 20,330, while 1,177,320 Illinoisans have been infected since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitals across the state are treating 1,488 patients for respiratory illnesses. Of those hospitalized, 361 are in intensive care, according to IDPH records.