FOREST PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker announced thousands of new COVID vaccine appointments will be coming to the Chicago area next week with the state set to expand eligibility.
On Monday, April 12, all residents 16 and older will be eligible to get a vaccine in Illinois. Chicago will wait until April 19 to expand eligibility. Chicago residents are eligible to get vaccinated at suburban sites.
"But it is important that we begin to address the whole population, because the danger of the new variants, spreading means that we want every dose to get into arms as soon as humanly possible," Governor Pritzker said. "The vaccine is the best weapon against the variants and it's the fastest to get back to normal life."
With the expansion, the governor said 150,000 additional vaccine appointments would be made available at eleven state-run sites in Cook County and the collar counties. That is in addition to doses being given at local hospitals and pharmacies.
"Even with all of these new appointments, there will not be enough vaccine in week one to get everyone that wants to be vaccinated a dose But vaccine doses will be arriving more quickly than ever before and the public health system is doing everything in its power to get these vaccines in the arms of our residents as quickly as the federal government can deliver them."
Pritzker said a quarter million doses would be coming doses to Cook County and the collar counties next week alone. The governor said as of Thursday, there are more than 1,000 vaccination locations in Illinois, including 20 National Guard operations as well as at Costco, CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Jewel-Osco, Mariano's and more.
But with 15 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine being destroyed due to contamination, the supply to Illinois, which this week was more than 148,000, will plummet to only 17,600 next week. .
The governor did not seem overly concerned, and his office said the state has about 2 million vaccination doses on reserve, though some are already allocated.
"Yes, 15 million doses being lost is a big deal, but at the same time, millions more doses are being added every week to what's being distributed to the state of Illinois and to the rest of the country, so I feel good about the trajectory here," Pritzker said.
Chicago is also impacted, and the city's top doctor says that low allocation could continue for three weeks.
"We knew that it was probably going to fall off, so we held a little bit of Johnson & Johnson to be able to cover Chicago State University of the union sites," said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Logistics expert Hani Mahmassani, director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center, said now is the time to utilize all of it, as millions more people are set to become eligible around the state Monday.
"Unless we expand that number significantly, we're going to have a period of frustration," he said.
The additional doses for the Chicago area will go to state-supported sites outside the city. But the governor says Chicago residents, if they can make it to the suburbs, are eligible for those appointments.
Meanwhile, an uptick in COVID cases in Cook County has concerns about the third surge top of mind, and the county raising the prospects of re-imposing restrictions.
"But if we have trends in the wrong direction will not hesitate to tighten restrictions on gatherings indoors or outdoors," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "Our future rests upon the decisions made in this critical moment."
Cook County to release 15,000 vaccine appointments Friday
Cook County Health will release 15,000 COVID vaccine appointments at noon Friday for the week of April 12.
Appointments can be made at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or by calling 833-308-1988, Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. The call center will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
This will be the first release of appointments under the eligibility expansion that includes individuals 16 years and older and will include appointments for all three authorized vaccines - Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson - at the following Cook County mass vaccination sites.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently approved for 16 and 17-year-olds. As such, it is important for these individuals to schedule at a Pfizer site. A parent or guardian must accompany these individuals to their appointment. All vaccinations are by appointment only.
Cook County said it expects to release additional appointments early next week.