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About 1 in 10 Illinois residents eligible for new COVID-19 boosters have received them

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PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION / VIA FLICKR.COM/PAHOWHO (CC BY-NC 2.0)
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Only 10.5% of Illinois residents eligible for the new bivalent COVID-19 booster shots have received them. That’s according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The rate is expected to be lower once new recommendations for children and five and older are factored in.

IDPH Friday reported that over the last week, an average of more than 27,000 doses of the new bivalent vaccines were administered across the state each day. This is more than double the daily average for all vaccinations for most of the summer. The rate is higher among those 65 and older, at 19.8% of the eligible Illinois population.

State officials last month said demand was strong for the new vaccine. As of Sept. 16, IDPH reported, an average of more than 21,000 doses of the new bivalent vaccines had been administered statewide over a one week period. While the number has risen, there is growing concern among the health care community that too few individuals will be protected this fall and winter.

Meanwhile, nearly 78% of Illinois residents ages 12 and older have completed their first two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or gotten one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, since those were authorized.

Following the CDC’s recommendation this week of the new bivalent boosters for children five and older, IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra is recommending parents and guardians get children vaccinated and fully protected to avoid the most severe effects of COVID-19. Director Vohra is also reminding parents that with flu season underway, they should also take action to protect their children from the risk of serious illness by getting the COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Children can receive both these vaccinations at the same time.

“I was pleased to see the CDC expand updated COVID-19 vaccines to include children aged 5 to 11 years old,” Director Vohra said. “This expansion comes at a critical time in Illinois and across the country, as we are seeing a sharp increase in severe childhood respiratory infections resulting in a shortage of available pediatric hospital beds. The updated bivalent COVID-19 booster, along with the flu vaccine, give parents two powerful tools to protect their children from severe illness and hospitalization. With a surge in childhood respiratory illnesses already occurring, and the possibility of diseases like COVID-19 and the flu rising later this fall and winter, now is the best time to get these safe, effective vaccinations.”

The push to protect children comes as the CDC released data showing that 16 counties in Illinois are rated at Medium Community Level for COVID-19. IDPH is reporting 10,416 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 52 deaths since October 7.

More than 890,000 Illinoisans have received a dose of the new, bivalent COVID-19 vaccines since they were approved for use in early September, including almost 190,000 doses in the last week. Daily vaccination numbers are at the highest level seen since early February, during the major surge in illnesses caused by the Omicron variant.

The CDC authorized two new bivalent booster vaccines on September 2 that include an mRNA component of the original strain to provide an immune response that is broadly protective against COVID-19 and an added mRNA component in common between the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 12 years of age and older.

The updated boosters are available at pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. The best way to locate a vaccine provider near you is to visit www.vaccines.gov and search for bivalent booster availability.

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