Illinois will require staff of educational institutions and some students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 5 or get tested regularly, according to statements given by governor JB Pritzker. The vaccine mandate will also be applicable on multiple health care workers, according to US media reports.

In addition to the vaccine mandate, residents of the state will also be required to follow an indoor mask mandate starting next week. 

The mandates are being instated in Illinois for the purpose of protecting the students, most of whom are not eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, and those with weaker immune systems, Pritzker said.

He said, “My number one concern is right now keeping the health care system available, not just for people who may get COVID but for people who have other problems and are taken to the hospital”, according to reports from CNN.

Pritzker went on to shed light on the vast disparity of COVID-19 severity between those who have been vaccinated and the ones who are yet to take the shot. He stressed that between January and July this year 98% of COVID-19 cases, 96% of hospitalizations and 95% of deaths were among unvaccinated population.

According to data released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccination rate of Illinois’ citizens is slightly below the national average. The numbers, for those who are above the age of 12, stand at 59%.

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement on Wednesday that would require city employees in Illinois’ Chicago to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-October this year.

The city of Chicago has already put in place a vaccine requirement for those associated with educational institutions. This includes all staff of public and private schools and carries the same deadline given for city employees.