IDPH urges COVID-19, flu vaccinations before Thanksgiving gatherings

FILE - A syringe is placed into a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination at a COVID-19 clinic in...
FILE - A syringe is placed into a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination at a COVID-19 clinic in Augusta, Maine, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. On Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, Pfizer said it will charge $110 to $130 for a dose of its COVID-19 vaccine once the U.S. government stops buying the shots, but the drugmaker says it expects many people will continue receiving doses for free.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:21 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Many people will gather around a table for a Thanksgiving meal next week, but the Illinois Department of Public health doesn’t want people to spread COVID-19 or the flu. IDPH is urging Illinoisans to celebrate the holiday safely by being fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 and the flu.

The department is also encouraging people to get tested for COVID-19 before attending any Thanksgiving gatherings. Of course, stay home if you are sick and practice good hand hygiene.

IDPH and the CDC reported 13,659 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases over the last week. The state also reported another 48 deaths during that time. 35,389 Illinoisans have died from COVID-related illnesses since the pandemic started.

“As we prepare to celebrate all that we are thankful for this season, I want to encourage all Illinoisans to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “With respiratory illnesses such as RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 leading to increased illness and hospitalizations, I strongly recommend using all available strategies to stay healthy and safe.”

Dr. Vohra stressed that people should test for COVID-19 before parties, especially if they will be visiting someone at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications.

State officials reported 1,797 new confirmed and probable cases and 10 deaths on Friday. The case rate 7-day average is 107 per 100,000 people.

1,070 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois. 116 people are in the ICU and 37 of those patients are on ventilators.

21 counties in Illinois are currently at an elevated community level for COVID-19. Winnebago County is the only area of the state considered to be at the high community level in orange.

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.

There are now 21 Illinois counties in yellow rated at the medium community level for COVID-19....
There are now 21 Illinois counties in yellow rated at the medium community level for COVID-19. There is one county in orange rated at the high community level.(Illinois Department of Public Health)

The counties listed at the medium community level are Adams, Boone, Crawford, Fulton, Henderson, Jo Daviess, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Stephenson, Tazewell, Wabash, and Washington.

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.

More than 1.7 million people in Illinois have received a dose of the bivalent COVID-19 booster shots since they were authorized in early September. Large numbers of Illinoisans are continuing to receive the bivalent boosters, with an average of almost 20,000 doses of the updated vaccines given each day.

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. Doctors, parents, and guardians can find resources from the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics by clicking here.

24,459 vaccines were given over the last 24 hours. 86.4% of Illinoisans 12 and older have received at least one shot. 78.2% of those people are fully vaccinated. The 7-day rolling average for shots given is 22,277.

The 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 is also distributing 1 million COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to 200,000 families in economically disadvantaged zip codes outside of Chicago. The effort was made possible through a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s public charity and its Project ACT (Access COVID Tests) program. People can find out if they live in an eligible zip code and request a package of five tests at the Project ACT website. The COVID-19 tests will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis and will be delivered to the home address applicants use.

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