A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to all Illinois residents 16 and older starting April 12. And Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty says Cook County mass vaccination sites are now open for signups from Evanston residents.

Hagerty says “the advocacy of many” led to the opening of the county sites to Evanstonians, who had been barred previously because the city has its own health department. Resident can sign up now for new appointments starting Friday. In addition, starting Monday, county sites will open to Phase 1B+ individuals.

Cook County has also been allocated appointment slots at FEMA’s United Center MassVac site, and will be announcing the process of scheduling those appointments soon.

Hagerty says, “Opening these MassVac locations will increase the pace at which Evanston residents can be vaccinated, and will support our Health & Human Services Department’s ongoing efforts to administer vaccines to eligible residents as quickly as we receive them.”

Pritzker says that by next month the state expects to be receiving one million vaccine doses a week and that’s why the state will expand eligibility to all in the middle of the month. He says the state will announce new priority groups between now and then.

Hagerty says 88% of Evanston residents 65 and over now have received at least one vaccine dose and 56% of the population in that age group has received a second dose.

Based on current IDPH allocation projections, Hagerty says the city anticipates that nearly all residents 65 and older who wish to receive the vaccine will be able to receive at least their first dose by the end of March.

He also says that more than a third of all eligible residents 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose and and 20% have gotten two doses.

Those numbers include residents who received the vaccine at City of Evanston point of dispensing events or through another source, such as their healthcare provider or pharmacy.

Pritzker also outlined a new “Bridge to Phase 5” plan that calls for easing current restrictions once 70% of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated, as long as hospitalizations and deaths don’t increase. He also said that once 50% of all residents 16 and over have been vaccinated, and subject to the same conditions, the state can remove capacity limits on businesses altogether.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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