Following the CDC’s recommendation of the new bivalent boosters for children five and older, Illinois Department of Public Health (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.
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.
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 Oct. 7.
“I was pleased to see the CDC expand updated COVID-19 vaccines to include children aged 5 to 11 years old,” 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.”
IDPH is working with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) to encourage physicians and parents to ensure children are fully protected from COVID-19 and the flu.
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 Sept. 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.