Pritzker expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 16 and older

Kierra Frazier, Managing Editor

DeKALB – Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that anyone 16 or older will be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine starting April 12 in Illinois.

The eligibility change won’t apply to Chicago, which has its own vaccination plan and gets a separate allocation of doses from the federal government. Children are not expected to be eligible for vaccinations until the summer or fall, as trials to test their safety and efficacy on children are in progress.

“Although we still are in the midst of a global pandemic, the end seems truly to be in sight,” Pritzker said during a Thursday news conference.

On Thursday, Pritzker also announced changes to the state’s reopening plan as vaccinations continue. The plan includes a “bridge” phase that increases capacity limits at places like museums and zoos as well as increased business operations.

Pritzker said Illinois will resume normal business operations when at least 50% of the state’s 16 and overpopulation has received at least one dose, and the entire state reaches a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and over.

As of Thursday morning, the number of those vaccinated over 16 is around 28%; for those over 65, the first-dose vaccination rate is around 58%, according to the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard.

In DeKalb, 63.84% of those 65 and older have received a COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 13.04% of those 16 to 64 years old.

Pritzker said the state’s mask requirement will be lifted when the CDC recommends it.

“These vaccines are our fastest ticket back to hugging our grandkids, eating inside restaurants without worrying about the risks, school dances, community celebrations, all the things that we miss about normal life,” Pritzker said during the conference.

More information on the state’s “Bridge to Phase 5” plan can be found here.