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State reaches first union agreement for vaccine mandate in Illinois’ congregate facilities

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(WSIL) —  Illinois has reached its first union agreement requiring vaccines for certain state workers in congregate facilities.

The agreement covers approximately 260 supervisory employees at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) which are represented by VR-704.

Employees must receive their first shot by October 14, 2021. Should an employee elect a two-dose vaccine, they must receive the second shot by November 18.

If employees do not receive the vaccine or an exemption by the dates identified, progressive disciplinary measures will be implemented, which may ultimately lead to discharge. The agreement includes a process whereby employees can seek an exemption based on medical contraindications or sincerely-held religious beliefs.

To further encourage vaccinations under the agreement with VR-704, employees will receive an additional personal day. If the vaccine administration is not available during an employee’s regularly scheduled shift, the employee may be compensated at their regular pay for the time taken to receive the vaccine.

In addition, vaccinated employees will receive paid “COVID time,” so that if a vaccinated employee gets COVID-19, or must quarantine due to COVID-19, they will receive a period of paid time off without using their benefit time.

“When staff take the life-saving vaccine, they are protecting their colleagues, individuals in custody and communities while moving the agency closer to normal operations,” said Rob Jeffreys, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. “This commitment will help IDOC overcome the challenges associated with infection control in congregate living environments.”

“With new variants among us, the quick spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings in Illinois and across the nation continues to harm the most vulnerable among us,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We have a safe and proven tool to end this pandemic, and vaccination remains the most effective way to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. I’m proud to reach this agreement with these critical labor partners and applaud VR-704 for taking this critical step to combat the virus and keep all of our State residents safe.”

All Illinois residents over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and proof of immigration status is not required to receive the vaccine. To find a vaccination center near you, visit

Coronavirus Resources

  • Are you fully vaccinated? Click here for guidance from the CDC.
  • Click here for the latest information from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
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