Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced on July 13 that colleges and universities across the state can drop COVID-19 vaccine mandates for staff and students.
However, the vaccine mandates for K-12 students and day care facilities will remain intact, according to a statement from Pritzker, a Democrat.
“Vaccine mandates for higher education employees and students and emergency medical service providers will not be reissued,” the governor said in a July 13 statement on modified orders. “Vaccination mandates will remain in place in K-12 schools, daycares. ... School and daycare-aged children have much lower rates of vaccination than the general public and have less ability to consistently and safely mask. In addition, outbreaks at schools threaten the ability to continue with in-person learning and the developmental benefits it provides.
“Vaccine mandates will remain for “state-run 24/7 congregate care facilities, and any health care facilities not covered under the federal CMS vaccine mandate (including independent doctors’ offices, dental offices, urgent care facilities, and outpatient facilities),” according to his office.
“We continue to remind everyone in Illinois that the most important step they can take to protect themselves, their loved ones and friends and colleagues is to remain up-to-date on vaccinations and booster shots,” Acting Illinois Department of Public Health Director Amaal Tokars said in a statement. “This is especially important for those who are vulnerable to serious outcomes. We urge everyone to take advantage of the current availability of vaccines for the sake of their children, as well as getting up-to-date as a parent, guardian, or grandparent.”
Attorney Thomas DeVore, a Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general who filed a lawsuit against the governor and several colleges over the mandate, claimed victory after the governor modified the order.
“There’s no facts and science to support any of what he just did, it’s a way to get these colleges out of the hotbox in where they were going to have to answer this lawsuit,” DeVore said. He is “pleased that my clients and the rest of the kids in college as well as the educators are no longer under this vaccination or test policy, I’m grateful for that, but it’s sad it took another lawsuit to accomplish that.”
DeVore said he still has a lawsuit pending against vaccine and testing mandates for K-12 teachers.