CHICAGO — President Joe Biden will push states and cities to make coronavirus vaccines available to all adults by May 1.
Biden’s plan — announced during a Thursday night speech — would significantly speed up Chicago’s vaccine timeline, as the city planned to limit vaccinations to certain groups of people until the end of May due to the limited supply of doses. But city officials said they’re “excited” about Biden’s announcement and will do more vaccinations — as soon as more doses get to Chicago.
“We were excited to hear the president’s ambitious plan to push up the timeline for vaccinating the nation and will be ready for whenever more vaccine makes it to Chicago,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement. “As we have said all along, the one thing holding us back from more fully vaccinating the city is the very limited supply of vaccine.”
Chicago’s vaccine plan calls for keeping vaccinations limited to 1C — essential workers and people 16 and older with underlying medical conditions — until May 31. Only then would all people 16 and older be eligible to be vaccinated.
Officials have said limiting eligibility was necessary because, while more doses are coming, the supply is still limited and people most in need need to get their shots. Chicago only received about 8,500 doses per day this week, and just one of every six Chicagoans has received their first shot.
But Biden said he’ll direct all states to make all adults eligible no later than May 1. That would presumably also apply to Chicago, which has its own vaccination campaign separate from Illinois’ efforts.
The state welcomed the announcement, with Gov. JB Pritzker saying in a statement Illinois has the means to administer more vaccines if the federal government sends more doses.
“The Biden administration has delivered on their promises and provided states the stability we need to plan,” Pritzker said in a statement. “The state of Illinois has relied on their estimates to project the availability of vaccine and has built the infrastructure to administer far more doses than we’re currently receiving to prepare for this moment.”
The federal government is expected to send many more doses to Chicago and Illinois during April and May, boosting the vaccination efforts, local officials have said. But getting a vaccination appointment in Chicago and the surrounding area has been highly competitive — and opening eligibility to all adults would greatly expand the number of people vying for those appointments.
Biden said he hopes to see more normalcy return to the United States in time for Independence Day on July 4. He said Americans could gather in small groups for the holiday — so long as vaccinations continue and people take safety steps to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“I am excited and hopeful that we can put the days of this pandemic behind us,” Pritzker said.
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