For its second round of COVID-19 vaccinations, Illinois will prioritize inmates over those with high-risk medical conditions.
In their Phase One rollout in December, Illinois administered vaccines to hospital workers and long-term care residents and staff.
The second phase, 1B, will begin Jan 25. According to updated information from the Illinois Department of Public Health will now include "corrections" in addition to residents 65 and older, front line essential workers including first responders, education workers, childcare workers, grocery store employees and postal service workers.
This means that inmates will now be ahead of people in the 16 to 64 years old age bracket that have high-risk medical conditions. That vulnerable category is not slated to receive the vaccine until Phase 1C, which also includes workers in the transportation, food service, housing, finance and energy sectors.
Previously, those in prison and corrections staff were listed after those with moderate comorbid conditions and people living in in homeless shelters according to Illinois' Dec 4 COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Illinois Republican state Sen. Dan McConchie, told NBC 5 that healthy inmates should not be vaccinated before people who are at greater risk for an adverse reaction to the coronavirus.
"Why we are putting healthy prison inmates in front of people with high-risk medical conditions is something I fundamentally don't understand," McConchie said.
Officials in New York, Kansas, Rhode Island and California among others have either slated prisoners to get the vaccine before other at risk categories or expressed a desire to do so.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania have already designated their prisoner population as a top priority for the vaccine.