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Illinoisans age 65 plus to have access to COVID vaccines

January 6, 2021 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois will make COVID-19 vaccinations available to residents age 65 and older in the next inoculation phase, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday as the state neared 1 million infections.

The age is lower than a government advisory panel’s recommendation of 75 and older. Pritzker said it was lowered in Illinois to make distribution more equitable, citing data showing elderly Black and Latino residents die younger from COVID-19.

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“For people of color, multigenerational institutional racism in the provision of health care has reduced access to care, caused higher rates of environmental and social risk and increased comorbidities,” Pritzker told reporters. “I believe our exit plan for this pandemic must overcome structural inequalities that have allowed COVID-19 to rage through our most vulnerable communities.”

Currently, health care workers and employees at long-term care facilities are eligible, representing roughly 850,000 people. State officials estimate the next phase will begin within weeks, depending on how many doses come from the federal government.

The next phase, representing 3.2 million residents, includes the elderly and essential workers such as first responders, public transit employees and grocery store workers.

Illinois logged 7,569 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 139 related deaths. Overall, Illinois has reported 999,288 cases and 17,096 deaths.

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Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.