Vaccination Availability Expanding and Metric Based Path to Reopening Announced

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 18, 2021 at 12:09pm

Vaccinations for COVID and easing of restrictions have a clearer path forward now in Illinois.

Governor JB Pritzker announced this morning an expansion of vaccination availability and a metric-based path toward fully reopening.

COVID vaccinations will be open to all Illinoisans age 16 and older beginning on April 12th. Pritzker says the expansion is due to increasing national vaccine supply and the state now averaging 100,000 vaccine administrations per day.

Pritzker says he and IDPH Director Dr. Ngoze Ezike will announce in the coming weeks, additional populations who will be made eligible for the vaccine prior to the universal eligibility on April 12th.

Pritzker also announced what is now called a Bridge Phase to the Reopen Illinois Plan that takes a “dial-like approach” toward reaching phase 5. In this Bridge Phase, increased capacity limits in both indoor and outdoor settings will be rolled out as the number of vaccinations in the state increase.

To reach the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach 70% of Illinoisans age 65 and older that have at least one dose of the vaccine. Pritzker says currently Illinois is at 58% of the 70% goal. The Bridge will then be followed by a 28-day phase to monitor hospitalization and ICU bed availability.

To then advance to Phase 5, the state must reach a 50% vaccination rate for residents age 16 and over and meet the same metrics and rates required to enter the transition phase, over an additional 28-day period. Currently, 16% of Illinoisans aged 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccination.

Mask wearing in the state will not change anytime soon, however. Pritzker says the wearing of facial coverings will be lifted only when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it.