(The Center Square) – With COVID-19 cases on the rise and demand decreases for vaccines in several Illinois counties, the Illinois Department of Public Health is authorizing counties to begin vaccinating anyone 16 and older.
The state previously planned to make all Illinoisans 16 and older eligible for the vaccine on April 12. For now, it is up to each health department to decide if they will expand eligibility, and the state is advising residents to check with their local health department on their eligibility rules.
“We didn’t want any doses sitting around,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “We want to make sure they get into people’s arms as fast as possible, especially if we are going to see an uptick here in the numbers. We want to avoid a surge.”
Illinois has seen ten days of increases in the 7-day rolling average for hospital admissions.
“Perhaps because we’ve administered doses who are older and they are vaccinated, but we are seeing that hospitalizations and cases going up are more among younger people,” said Pritzker.
The state is encouraging counties with lower demand to expand vaccine eligibility. That is not the case in McLean County, where vaccination appointments get filled quickly.
“Our supply and demand are not matching up still,” said Marianne Manko, public affairs coordinator for the McLean County Health Department. “We have had issues with not being able to get enough vaccine as most counties have.”
Manko adds that, unless an ample supply of vaccine comes in, the eligibility requirements will stay the same for the time being.
In the meantime, the state is sending rapid response vaccination teams to northwestern Illinois to administer shots quickly to curb rising cases. The counties involved include Whiteside, Boone, Carroll, Ogle, and Lee counties.
According to IDPH, the state is averaging nearly 100-thousand doses administered per day over the past week.
Illinois is expected to receive one million doses of vaccine this week.