Illinois has joined several states in expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to now include smokers, in line with federal health guidance.
The state’s Phase 1b eligibility, including those aged 65-plus and frontline essential workers, expanded on Feb. 25 to allow those with underlying conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart conditions and smoking to receive the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says these conditions heighten the risk of severe COVID-19, and after Phase 1b, vaccines should go to those aged 65 to 74, additional essential workers and those aged 16 to 64 with high-risk conditions.
The move in Illinois, which has met mixed reactions, follows a similar approach taken in New Jersey, when the state on Jan. 14 opened up coronavirus vaccine distribution to include residents ages 65-plus and those ages 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition, including smoking and obesity. New Jersey teachers and other essential workers who do not fall into this category will see expanded eligibility on March 15, per an announcement from the governor.
However, some county health departments in Illinois previously said limited vaccine supply would delay expanded eligibility, per the Chicago Tribune.
Pennsylvania also included smokers in expanded vaccine eligibility later in January. Mississippi, too, has prioritized smokers its first coronavirus vaccine distribution phase.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein and Madeline Farber contributed to this report.
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