Where do Illinois state workers stand with vaccine mandate as deadline looms?

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, Ross Weidner, Jonathan Fagg WLS logo
Friday, October 22, 2021
Where do Illinois state workers stand with vaccine mandate?
Will thousands of Illinois state employees meet a fast approaching vaccine mandate?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New data obtained by the ABC7 I-Team shows how far behind Illinois is in meeting its COVID vaccine reporting mandate for thousands of state government employees.

Prisons, juvenile facilities and veterans homes are among the residential facilities operated by Illinois government that are in a state of uncertainty based on employee vaccination records submitted so far.

The mandate affects workers in some of the closest confines: prisons and other residential facilities; many operating 24/7, with staffers working face-to-face. There are 21,969 state employees covered by the governor's executive order requiring vaccination.

SEE ALSO | Aldermen file ordinance seeking to repeal Chicago vaccine mandate

Public records compiled by the state were obtained under a Freedom of Information request and analyzed by I-Team data experts. They reveal a wide disparity in who has reported their vaccination status and who hasn't.

Across all Illinois Department of Corrections facilities, less than half of staffers are confirmed as fully vaccinated. That's 6,300 hundred employees reporting out of a little more than 13,000.

The department's Peoria Adult Transition Center checking in with the lowest vaccine confirmation: just 13%. In Chicago, Crossroad's Adult Transition Center is at 94%.

According to the latest data analyzed by the I-Team, Illinois Veterans Affairs facilities have the highest confirmed vaccination reporting rate with 75% fully vaccinated and 6% confirming one dose.

SEE ALSO | Advocate Aurora Health fires 440 employees for not complying with COVID vaccine mandate

Governor JB Pritzker and the state attorney general are fighting numerous lawsuits challenging vaccine mandates for schools and state agencies.

"The more you have to send lawyers out to fight these ridiculous lawsuits that are frankly making people less safe-that are harming our children-then the less you can do to really lift up the entire state," said Pritzker, "Going around and suing school districts, and the governor, and the attorney general, and everybody else in order to keep people less safe-that makes zero sense to me. So we're going to push back as hard as we can."

The final vaccination deadline for state employees covered by the governor's order is now November 30, following several extensions by the governor. But with the first shot deadline coming quickly next week, state agencies will have a good idea then how big of problem there is with compliance. The question at that point will be: what will actually happen to the employees who are in violation?