The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that 493,000 Illinoisans have received a dose of the new, bivalent COVID-19 vaccines since they were approved for use in early September, including 137,000 doses in the past 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 announcement comes as the CDC released data showing that 20 counties in Illinois are rated at Medium Community Level for COVID-19, and for the first time since the middle of May, there are no Illinois counties listed at High Community Level. IDPH is reporting 10,945 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 64 deaths since Sept. 23. That is the lowest number of weekly cases since April 8 of this year.
“It is encouraging to see the large number of Illinoisans who are taking advantage of the added protection offered by the new bivalent boosters,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “And while the case rate has been declining, this is not the time for anyone to let their guard down. As we head into fall and face a potential surge in new cases, I urge everyone who is eligible to contact their healthcare provider or local pharmacy to get the updated booster AND their flu shot. These vaccines are especially important for those most vulnerable to severe illness, such as those individuals over 50, those with underlying medical conditions, and those who are immunocompromised.”
IDPH reported that over the last week, an average of more than 19,000 doses of the new bivalent vaccines have been administered across the state each day. This is more than double the daily average for all vaccinations for most of the summer. Among the total eligible population, those 12 and older, about 4.4 percent have received the new booster. The rate is higher among those 65 and older, at 10 percent of the Illinois population.
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.
IDPH has been supporting pharmacies and healthcare providers in efforts to increase their inventories of the various FDA-authorized treatments. There are over 1,200 treatment locations in Illinois — including all the major retail pharmacies.
In counties at the Medium Community Level, persons who are elderly or immunocompromised (at risk of severe outcomes) are advised to wear a mask in indoor public places. They should also get up to date on COVID-19 vaccines or get their bivalent booster, if eligible.