Whilst staff at veterans' homes, nursing homes, hospitals and sundry health care facilities balk at getting vaccinated – let-me-think-about-it rates for doctors, nurses and other frontline health care workers are as high as 40 percent nationwide – the state of Illinois has decided that while doses remain scarce, prisoners and the homeless who reside in shelters or frequent day centers are on par with the elderly (75 or older) and "frontline essential workers" who will be second in line after health care workers. A draft plan released Dec. 31 by the Illinois Department of Public Health includes one example, delivered as less than an ironclad promise, showing that inmates, the homeless and the elderly could start getting vaccinated within a month. The Uptown People's Law Center, a Chicago nonprofit that advocates for prisoner rights, calls this a win, saying that inmates now will stand on equal footing with guards in getting vaccinated. "We share this victory with dozens of other organizations who have been pushing for this," the law center's executive director, Alan Mills, said this week in a message to donors. The most recent data released by the state Department of Corrections shows that 249 prison employees as of this week have active cases of COVID-19; the department says that nearly 1,900 inmates have active cases.

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