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Health, Science, Environment

St. Clair, Madison Counties Now Vaccinating Anyone 16 Or Older

A health care professional prepares COVID-19 vaccination for use at the St. Clair County mass vaccination center in Belleville on Feb. 12. Madison and St. Clair counties will now vaccinate anyone who is 16 years or older.
File Photo / Derik Holtmann
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Belleville News-Democrat
A health care professional prepares a COVID-19 vaccination for use at the St. Clair County mass vaccination center in Belleville on Feb. 12. Madison and St. Clair counties will now vaccinate anyone who is 16 or older.

Anyone who is 16 or older can now get a COVID-19 vaccination in St. Clair or Madison counties.

Both counties announced they would expand eligibility after Illinois Department of Public Health officials said counties with declining vaccine demand could do so on Friday.

“In those areas, we didn’t want any doses sitting around,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “We want to make sure they get into people’s arms as fast as possible, especially if we’re going to see an uptick here in the numbers.”

Vaccinations are by appointment only and restricted to those who live or work in Illinois. County officials said they will check for proof of residency or employment in the state.

Sign up for a vaccine appointment in Madison County

Sign up for a vaccine appointment in St. Clair County

The change in eligibility for the vaccine comes as state officials worry of a possible resurgence in coronavirus infections.

There are an increasing number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state, Pritzker said.

“We are seeing that hospitalizations and cases going up are more among younger people,” he said. “That is, that the average age has come down.”

In public health Region 4, which includes the Metro East, the case positivity rate has risen slightly in the past month to 3.3%. And ICU bed availability in the region has dropped in recent weeks.

Illinois public health officials aim to blunt the rising number of cases by administering more vaccines and bringing doses to specific vulnerable communities.

“We don't want to go down the same path we've seen before and experience a resurgence in the pandemic,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state's health director. “We cannot move forward if our metrics are going backward. The vaccine will help get us to the end of the pandemic, but we need to continue to reduce spread of the virus.”

The rest of Illinois is set to become eligible for the vaccine on April 12.

Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid

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