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Illinois opens COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to Phase 1B Plus

People 16 and older are part of Phase 1B Plus and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine if they have high-risk medical conditions

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. — More of Illinois' most vulnerable residents are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

About 3.2 million people in Illinois are part of Phase 1B Plus, which targets younger people whose health may already be at risk. The state opened eligibility for the group on Thursday.

Under Illinois guidelines, people 16 and older qualify for the vaccine if they have high-risk medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, sickle cell disease, and smoking. Pregnant women, organ transplant recipients and people with some disabilities also qualify.

Recipients will not need to prove their health conditions. Earlier this week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said the state is relying on people to be honest about their health problems.

The governor also said this focus will help the state vaccinate minority communities who have been hit hard by the virus.

“These are the most vulnerable people really with comorbidities. They're the most vulnerable populations, the populations of color, communities that otherwise are suffering the most from cases and hospitalizations and deaths. And so we want to make sure to cover those communities as quickly as we possibly can,” said Pritzker.

Across the river, Missouri could also soon open up vaccinations to the next tier.

Governor Mike Parson is making an announcement on the state’s vaccination plan at 3:15 p.m. Thursday. Wednesday, in an interview with Kansas City Star and WDAF-TV, he hinted that vaccinations could soon be opened up to Phase 1B Tier 3, which includes educators, childcare workers and infrastructure employees.