Suburban Cook County residents with underlying health conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 starting Monday, officials announced Wednesday.
The expansion of the vaccination effort for Cook County residents outside Chicago puts the county in line with the rest of the state of Illinois, which has been vaccinating residents younger than 65 with health problems since Feb. 25.
Starting Monday, vaccine eligibility in suburban Cook County will be extended to those who have cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, pulmonary disease and sickle cell disease as well as individuals with disabilities, pregnant women, those who have had an organ transplant and smokers.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen great progress in vaccinating vulnerable groups,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medical officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health.
More than 68% of individuals 65 and older in suburban Cook County have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Rubin said.
Officials will open new appointments at the county’s five mass vaccination sites for the residents who are newly eligible at noon Friday, officials said. More information is available at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov, where people can pre-register.
Those sites are at the Tinley Park Convention Center, the North Riverside Health Center, South Suburban College, Triton College and in Des Plaines.
Cook County officials will ask all pharmacies, doctors and hospitals vaccinating residents to expand their list of those eligible to be vaccinated.
Chicago and Cook County did not expand eligibility along with the state on Feb. 25 because it lacked an ample supply of the vaccine, putting Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at odds with Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Those eligible in the first phases of the vaccination effort — health care workers, residents at long-term care facilities and those older than 65 — are still eligible to get the vaccine.
Lightfoot announced Wednesday that Chicago would allow all essential workers and those with underlying health conditions to get the vaccine starting March 29.
Cook County health officials have not yet announced when all essential workers will be eligible for the vaccine.