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New vaccine mandate for Illinois day care staff

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday new vaccination or weekly testing requirements for workers at licensed daycare centers.

MOLINE, Ill. — Under new guidelines announced Friday, Oct. 22, Illinois' 55,000 day care center staff members are required to get COVID-19 vaccinations or regular testing.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order that declares any staff of licensed day care facilities not fully vaccinated by Dec. 3 will have to go through at least weekly COVID-19 testing until they are fully vaccinated.

“Vaccinations offer life-saving protection for the people who receive them and make the community safer for the people who can’t – including the babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine,” Pritzker said in the release“By extending vaccine-or-test requirements to those who work at licensed day care centers, we are adding another level of protection for our youngest residents and preventing outbreaks in daycare centers as more and more parents return to work.”

The requirements build on existing vaccine requirements Pritzker announced on Aug. 26 for all teachers and health care workers in an effort to curb the virus spread among those working in places with high risk of exposure.

Some Illinois lawmakers are opposed to the requirement.

In response to the mandate, Women of the Senate Republican Caucus says women in the workforce have been especially impacted by the global pandemic. The group added working mothers, "were hit the hardest" and struggled to manage their careers along with affordable and reliable child care.

"The reality is the most recent mandate is an attack on working mothers as they resume a more normal work schedule," said Women of the Senate Republican Caucus in a statement. "Gov. Pritzker’s action has the potential to exacerbate an already growing child care crisis in our state. It’s a shortsighted act that will diminish the already limited and sparse availability of child care to families in Illinois.”

On Aug. 4, vaccinations were required for all state employees working at congregate facilities, such as the Illinois Departments of Human Services, Corrections, Veterans Affairs and Juvenile Justice.

"Vaccinated daycare workers offer another level of protections and an increased level of comfort for parents and caregivers, whose infants and toddlers are not yet eligible for the vaccine,”  Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Marc Smith said in Friday's release.

Masks were mandated in all Illinois schools and child care facilities on Aug. 4.