CHICAGO — Chicago will make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccinations by April 19, substantially moving up its timeline for that phase.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday he’d order states and major cities to make all adults eligible for vaccines by April 19. During a news conference later in the day, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago will meet that deadline — so long as it’s provided with enough doses. The city previously hadn’t planned to open eligibility to all adults until May 31.
“We will meet that deadline,” Lightfoot said. “We need more vaccine from the federal government, but we’re optimistic — based upon conversations — that, that opportunity will happen.”
The vaccinations — provided for free, regardless of a person’s insurance — are the best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic, officials have said.
But Chicago’s rollout has been slowed by a lack of supply from the federal government, among other things. Just 20 percent of Chicagoans 18 and older are fully vaccinated, while 40 percent have gotten at least one dose, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during Tuesday’s news conference.
“As long as we have vaccine supply, we are 100 percent in support of moving ahead,” Arwady said.
Lightfoot said the city will still not have enough vaccine to give everyone the shots come April 19, but supply will increase. She asked for people to be patient as more appointments open up. Arwady has previously said there will be enough doses that everyone in the city will be able to get vaccinated in April or May.
About 1,288,133 million doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans, and 1,466,697 doses have been administered in the city overall.
Illinois will open its vaccine eligibility to all people 16 and older Monday.
At the same time, cases of coronavirus are surging in Chicago and across Illinois. The city is seeing nearly 600 new cases per day, and its positivity rate has risen to 5.1 percent — a sign the virus is spreading unchecked.
Most new cases are being seen in people 18-39 years old.
“Look, we’re seeing cases in younger people,” Arwady said. Opening eligibility is “about wanting to make shifts where we’re able to. I do think it’s the right thing from a science perspective.”
City officials had already been thinking about opening up eligibility sooner than planned before Biden’s announcement, Arwady said.
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