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ILLINOIS — Illinois is set to begin Phase 1b of its coronavirus vaccination rollout Monday, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned residents will “need to be patient” due to a severely limited supply of the vaccines.
About 3.2 million Illinoisans are eligible to receive a vaccine under Phase 1b guidelines, but the state will start that phase Monday with a “very limited allotment” of vaccines from the federal government, Pritzker said Friday.
States across the U.S. are facing a vaccine shortage because former President Donald Trump did not invoke the Defense Production Act to boost production, Pritzker said, calling it a “failure of the previous administration.”
Illinois officials expect to receive about 126,000 first doses of the coronavirus vaccine next week, not including doses for Chicago, Pritzker said. That accounts for about 4 percent of the 3.2 million Illinois resident who are eligible for vaccines during Phase 1b.
“There will be far greater demand than supply for at least the near term,” but the state is working with health departments and pharmacies to launch hundreds of vaccination sites in the coming weeks, Pritzker said.
Those who are eligible — residents 65 and older and front-line essential workers — must make appointments to receive a vaccine, Pritzker said.
Walgreens, CVS and Jewel-Osco pharmacies will soon start taking appointments, while Hy-Vee, Mariano’s and Kroger pharmacies are expected to start Feb. 1, Pritzker said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is also set to launch a website to help residents make vaccination appointments.
Vaccinations will be given by appointment only during the start of Phase 1b, but Pritzker said the state will set up walk-in vaccination sites and 24-hour clinics “when we have a steady stream of vaccine coming in from the federal government.”
Until then, residents should continue wearing their masks and practicing social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Pritzker said, warning the easing of restrictions “could be cut short” if cases start to rise again.
“I know none of us want to see another wave of COVID that brings on more mitigations, so let’s not let our guard down,” Pritzker said. “With cautious behavior, we can keep people healthy and power through these final months of the pandemic together.”
Pritzker said he understands many residents are trying to figure out when they might receive the coronavirus vaccine, but he cannot provide a precise timeline, as it depends on when Illinois receives vaccines from the federal government.
“I can’t tell you an exact date,” Pritzker said. “I think it would be irresponsible, in fact, to set a date” for when all Illinois residents who want a vaccine can get one.