IDPH strongly recommends COVID-19 boosters, flu shots before winter surge

An Illinois pharmacist prepares a vaccine.
An Illinois pharmacist prepares a vaccine.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 4:06 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - More than 1.1 million Illinoisans have received a dose of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines since they were approved in early September, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. IDPH officials reported that 207,000 people received the new bivalent booster shots over the past week.

Daily vaccination numbers continue to trend at the highest level since early February when thousands of people contracted the Omicron variant. Both bivalent vaccines offer added protection from the BA.4 and BA.5 variants that are still the most kind of transmissible across Illinois and across the country.

IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said Friday that he is encouraged to see the large and growing number of people across the state taking action to protect themselves and their families by getting the bivalent booster shot.

“For those who have not gotten the bivalent booster or the flu shot, now is the best time to get fully immunized and protected, while COVID-19 community levels are still relatively low,” Vohra said. “As we are currently experiencing a sharp increase in severe pediatric respiratory diseases that is resulting in a shortage of pediatric beds - and at the same time facing the prospect of a fall and winter surge of COVID-19 and other illnesses affecting all of us - I am strongly recommending the latest COVID-19 and flu shots for all those who are eligible.”

Dr. Vohra said the COVID-19 and flu shots are especially important for people over 50, immunocompromised, or those with chronic medical conditions.

IDPH is partnering with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to encourage physicians and parents to ensure children are fully protected from COVID-19 and the flu. Doctors, parents, and guardians can find resources from ICAAP by clicking here.

The Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC reported Friday that there are three counties listed at high risk for COVID-19. There are now 23 counties listed at the medium-level risk for COVID. IDPH reported 11,955 new confirmed and probable cases since last Friday.

IDPH officials reported an average of more than 29,000 doses of the bivalent boosters were given across the state each day during the past week. The department said that is more than triple the daily average of all vaccinations for most of the summer.

39,621 vaccines were given over the last 24 hours. 85.9% of Illinoisans 12 and older have received at least one shot. 77.8% of those people are fully vaccinated. The 7-day rolling average for shots given is 33,992.

The CDC authorized the updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 5 to 11 on October 12. Bivalent vaccines from Moderna were also authorized for children and young adults 6 to 17 on the same day.

These updated booster shots are available at pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. You can look for a vaccine provider near you by clicking here and searching for bivalent booster availability.

IDPH reported another 43 deaths over the past week. The department said 35,168 Illinoisans have died from COVID-related illness since the pandemic started.

State officials reported 2,892 new confirmed and probable cases and 8 deaths on Friday. The case rate 7-day average is now 94 per 100,000 people.

1,060 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois. 124 people are in the ICU and 51 of those patients are on ventilators.

There are now 3 counties in orange rated at the high community level for COVID-19. There are...
There are now 3 counties in orange rated at the high community level for COVID-19. There are also 23 counties in yellow rated at the medium community level.(Illinois Department of Public Health)

Knox, Saline, and Warren counties are listed at the high community level for COVID-19.

The CDC recommends people in areas rated at the high community level should wear well-fitted masks indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. The organization notes that the recommendation includes masking in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings. People who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease should wear a mask or respirator for greater protection and consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public. The CDC said those people should also have a plan for at-home testing and talk with a healthcare provider if they test positive to learn about oral antivirals and monoclonal antibodies.

Anyone in close contact with someone at high risk for severe disease is advised to consider self-testing to detect COVID-19 infection before contact. The CDC also said those people should wear a mask whenever they are inside with someone at higher risk for disease.

The counties listed at the high community level are Champaign, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Gallatin, Greene, Hardin, Henderson, Jackson, Jefferson, Jo Daviess, Morgan, Perry, Pope, Scott, Shelby, Stephenson, Wayne, and Williamson.

Elderly or immunocompromised people living in areas labeled at medium-level risk for COVID-19 should wear masks in indoor places as well. The CDC said those individuals should be up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines and get a second booster shot if eligible.

IDPH data indicated that the risk of hospitalization and severe outcomes from COVID-19 is much higher for unvaccinated people than for people who are up to date on their vaccinations.

The state continues to work with pharmacies and healthcare providers to increase the inventory of various FDA-authorized treatments. IDPH reported there are over 1,200 treatment locations across the state, including all major retail pharmacies. More than 96.7% of the state’s population is within a 10-mile radius of one of these locations.

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