Pritzker lowers Illinois Phase 1B vaccine eligibility age to 65, citing equity reasons


Daily file photo by Emma Edmund

Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker announced the priority eligibility age will lower from 75 to 65 for the next stage of Illinois COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Maia Spoto, City Editor

The priority eligibility age will lower from 75 to 65 for the next stage of Illinois COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday. The shift marks a departure from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations. 

“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,” Pritzker said. 

Illinois Department of Public Health director Ngozi Ezike said the change was made because of COVID-19’s disproportionate toll on Illinois’ Latinx and Black populations. The average age of death from COVID-19 is 81 for White residents, 72 for Black residents and 68 for Latinx residents, according to IDPH data. 

“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,” Ezike said

The state’s Phase 1B plan is now set to distribute vaccines to 3.2 million people. Additional priority recipients will include non-healthcare essential workers, such as first responders and grocery store workers. The Illinois National Guard will aid in mass vaccination site development. 

Frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities were designated for Phase 1A distribution, which began in Illinois for healthcare workers on Dec. 15 and for people involved in long-term care on Dec. 28. 

Additionally, after Jan. 15, regions that meet state health criteria can move out of Tier 3 mitigation, Pritzker said.

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Twitter: @maia_spoto

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