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Illinois Gov. Pritzker issues vaccination mandate for 55,000 day care workers

Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO — Workers in state licensed day care centers will have to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing under an executive order Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued Friday.

The state estimates the order will apply to 55,000 workers at nearly 2,900 day care centers licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Friday’s order puts privately run day care centers in line with the vaccination requirements for public and private schools that went into effect Sept. 19 after being delayed two weeks from the original deadline for first doses.

The order comes as Pritzker continues to struggle to get the largest state public workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, to agree to a vaccine mandate for members working at state prisons and other congregate facilities.

The Dec. 3 deadline for day care workers to get their first shot is followed by a requirement they get their second dose of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines by Jan. 3.

Any worker who is not fully vaccinated — having received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine — by Dec. 3 will have to undergo weekly testing.

 

“Vaccinations offer lifesaving protection for the people who receive them and make the community safer for the people who can’t — including the babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine,” Pritzker said in a statement with his latest order.

Federal health officials could give emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 5 by early next month, but shots for the youngest children aren’t expected to become available until sometime next year.

Day care centers have been subject to a mask mandate for anyone 2 and older since early August, even before the latest statewide mandate for all indoor public places went into effect.

Pritzker has stopped short of requiring all state workers under his authority to get vaccinated, though his earlier order mandating shots or testing for school employees also covered college employees and students and health care workers. Tuesday was the deadline for people covered by that order to receive their second dose.

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