CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicago is opening up COVID vaccine eligibility to the Phase 1C group Monday.The move means anyone 16 and older who has a qualifying medical condition can now book an appointment.More types of essential workers are also now eligible, including workers in clergy and religious organizations, energy, finance, food and beverage service, higher education, information technology and communications, legal, media, other community or government-based operations and essential functions, personal care and hygiene, public health, public safety, retail, shelter and housing, transportation and logistics, water and wastewater.RELATED: Chicago COVID vaccine map shows how many residents vaccinated by zip code Also starting Monday, vaccination sites run by the city of Chicago will only schedule appointments for people who live in the city.With the expansion to 1C, the majority of Chicago’s adult population is now eligible to get a vaccine. However, officials continuing to urge patience as eligibility does not guarantee an immediate appointment.Why are COVID-19 vaccine supplies still limited?”It took me a while,” said Michelle Gerol. “The process was a little frustrating, but once I got it, it was like finding the good ticket from the Willy Wonka movie.”Cook County has yet to announce when it will open access to those in 1C, but did make 25,000 new appointments available at four of its mass vaccination sites Sunday afternoon. Anyone eligible under phases 1A, 1B, 1B+ and approved essential workers were able to sign up for the shot due to new state guidelines, however, those appointments were booked up in just under two hours.”It was 50,000 people in the waiting room with only 2,500 vaccines,” said vaccine hunter Maria Koikas.Koikas started helping others enroll when she saw how difficult the process was for her own parents.”It is a million people going for the same hot concert ticket that there is only 100 of them,” she said.RELATED: 3 generations of West Englewood family get COVID-19 vaccine togetherIn the last month, Koikas has enrolled nearly 300 people and counting. Her advice is to check often, be prepared for the appointment drop, and don’t give up.For parts of Illinois outside of Chicago and Cook County, more groups become eligible for vaccinations Monday.RELATED: Coronavirus Illinois: COVID vaccine distribution by county, regionFood and beverage workers, construction workers and religious leaders are now able to get their shots.Illinois is set to open eligibility to anyone 16 and older on April 12.To date, two million Illinois residents, which is 16% of the state population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The state has been vaccinating over 99,000 people a day on average.Gov. JB Pritzker said he may be forced to rethink his approach to fully reopening the state fully, which it was on pace to start next week.
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