During the lead-up to the 2022 Midterm Election, the contentious race for governor was highlighted by a number of issues. Among them was a question surrounding whether or not COVID vaccines will eventually be mandated for Illinois students.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the topic Wednesday, one day after he won reelection and secured his second term as governor.
“[The Illinois Department of Public Health meets] on a regular basis to look at vaccines and… what requirements there ought to be,” Pritzker told reporters. “There are no policies or plans to expand to include a COVID-19 vaccine in those requirements.”
The conversation sparked in October, when a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel voted to add COVID-19 shots to the lists of recommended vaccinations for kids and adults.
The panel’s unanimous decision had no immediate effect, however, as COVID-19 shots already were recommended for virtually all Americans. Such a move would instead put the shots on the annually updated, formal lists of what vaccinations doctors should be routinely offering to their patients, alongside shots for polio, measles and hepatitis.
The CDC sought to clarify misinformation on the decision soon after, tweeting that “states establish vaccine requirements for school children, not ACIP or CDC.”
Illinois law states that immunization requirements are determined by IDPH. The department has not commented on any plans for additional mandates.
In the days following the CDC panel’s vote, Pritzker’s opponent, Darren Bailey, tweeted that he would oppose “mandating COVID vaccines for grade school, college and employment.”
As Governor, my administration will oppose mandating COVID vaccines for grade school, college and employment. We all know the mandate candidate, J.B. Pritzker, will force it on your kids because he thinks the government knows better than parents. #twill
— Darren Bailey for Governor (@DarrenBaileyIL) October 21, 2022
Previously, a mandate was in effect for college students and education workers from K-12 and university levels. But over the summer, Pritzker announced that his administration would no longer require college students and faculty to receive COVID vaccinations, though some schools chose to continue the mandate regardless.