Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, discusses Chicago's vaccination efforts during a news conference at the Harris Bank Building in the Loop, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
View All (7)

CHICAGO (AP) — The state of Illinois, working with business and labor organizations, plans to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to workers at offices around the state, officials announced Monday.

The initiative is being prompted by the return to offices by thousands of workers forced home by the pandemic. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday having vaccine available where people are working makes getting vaccinations very convenient.

“Thanks to this new initiative, people will be able to conveniently get this life-saving vaccine right in their workplace, furthering our efforts to create a safe return to work process for our residents in the economic heart of our city, regardless of their occupation,’’ said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The effort will launch in mid-May with the opening of 10 vaccination sites in Chicago, Schaumburg and Rockford. The clinics, staffed by Walgreen pharmacists, offer two-dose vaccinations and will also take walk-ins.

State officials are encouraging Illinois building operators interested in hosting additional clinics to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health directly or to contact the Building Owners and Managers Association.

“With enhanced air quality and ventilation, advanced cleanliness procedures, and reconfigurations, our buildings have been prepared to welcome tenants back to the office for over a year,” Building Owners and Managers Association executive director Farzin Parang said in a statement.

While announcing the vaccination plans at a Chicago bank, Pritzker acknowledged Illinois has reached a vaccination plateau, as most people eager to be vaccinated have already received their shots.

State officials are also supporting vaccination clinics for community organizations such as churches and other religious organizations, neighborhood associations, mutual aid groups, nonprofits, immigrant service providers. Interested organizations can sign up to host a clinic at no cost to them and IDPH will provide the staff and supplies.

The efforts come as state health officials report 1,424 new cases of the coronavirus and 12 new deaths. The health department is reporting a total of 1,356,391 cases, including 22,235 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic. More than 9.9 million vaccines had been administered in Illinois as of early Monday.