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Some Illinois lawmakers want the COVID-19 vaccine now, but not so fast, says Pritzker

State Capitol (Matt Whitlock - WICS)
State Capitol (Matt Whitlock - WICS)
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Members of the Illinois General Assembly are expected to return to the capital city starting next week, but one state legislator is openly calling for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization for legislators before that happens.

In a tweet Friday, Jan. 15, Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, addressed the governor directly, saying in part, “If it’s essential for us to gather almost every week, then we are essential enough to get a vaccine."

That same day, Gov. JB Pritzker, D-Illinois, was asked his thoughts on the proposition.

“Elected officials will fall in wherever they fall in as the rest of the population does,” Pritzker said.

If lawmakers are in a group already eligible for the vaccine, they can get the vaccine. If not, it's back in line with the general population.

The governor also said Friday that there's no plan to prioritize any Illinois legislators for the vaccine. Pritzker himself has also not yet been vaccinated.

The idea of vaccinating lawmakers early isn't new, though. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are at least eight states that include members of their legislature in priority phases of their vaccination plan.

Still, Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, says he’s not in favor.

“When we still are having problems rolling it out to vulnerable populations, there really isn't a need right now," Butler said.

When the General Assembly was in Springfield last week for the lame duck session, four cases of COVID-19 were reported: one at the Capitol Complex, where the Senate met, and three at the Bank of Springfield Center, where the House of Representatives met.

A remote legislation bill failed to pass during the session last week, meaning that both the Senate and House must return in-person to Springfield. The Senate is expected to reconvene on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and the House on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Illinois will begin Phase 1B of the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan on Jan. 25, which includes people over the age of 65 and frontline essential workers.

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