CHICAGO — Some state vaccinations sites are allowing people with disabilities and certain medical conditions to book appointments as of Thursday — but Chicagoans in this group have to wait until late March for their shot since nearly 500,000 already-eligible people are still waiting for theirs.
The Chicago Department of Public Health issued a statement Thursday defending its decision to not expand vaccine eligibility. Doing so would force frontline workers and older people to wait even longer to get vaccinated as demand would increase but supply is still low, according to the health department.
“At this time, we simply do not receive enough vaccine doses to expand eligibility beyond our current categories,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said in a statement. “If Chicago expanded eligibility, it would add hundreds of thousands of more people seeking vaccine in Chicago, without increasing the amount of available vaccine.”
Currently, 713,000 Chicagoans are eligible for vaccine, which includes 363,000 people 65 and older and 350,000 frontline workers, according to the Department of Public Health. But the city has received only 218,250 first doses since Jan. 25. That leaves 494,750 1B doses unaccounted for.
“That is only enough vaccine to administer a first dose to 31 percent of Chicagoans eligible in Phase 1B,” officials said.
And the need is likely even higher, since it does not include people in Phase 1A who have not been vaccinated or non-Chicago residents who work in the city.
Currently, the only people eligible for vaccines in Chicago are people 65 and older, frontline workers, health care workers and long-term care workers and residents. The city plans to allow people younger than 65 with disabilities or qualifying health issues to get the vaccine when Phase 1C begins, expected in late March.
For more information on how to get the vaccine in Chicago, click here.
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