Illinois recommends COVID booster shots for anyone 18 and older fully vaccinated

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A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa., on Sept. 14, 2021. U.S. regulators have opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all and more adults, Friday, Nov. 19, letting them choose another dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), following the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to open COVID-19 booster shots to all, is recommending anyone 18 years and older get a COVID vaccine booster dose six months after receiving their second Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or two months after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

 “For continued, ongoing protection, we are urging everyone who is eligible to get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine to get one,” IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a Friday release.

“Scientific and medical experts have reviewed the data and found booster doses are beneficial. While we need more people who are completely unvaccinated to get their first doses, we cannot risk losing some of the protection the vaccines have already provided due to waning immunity.”

Early data show that the vaccines effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time, the state release said. The lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated, as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant. Getting a booster shot is not uncommon. This happens every year with seasonal flu vaccine.

While you should get the same type of vaccine for both your first and second doses, the CDC has said mix and matching vaccines for booster shots is allowed.

For example, if you received two doses of the Moderna vaccine, you may opt to get a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for your booster dose. Or if you received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may choose Moderna for your booster dose.

You just need to wait 6 months after your second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or 2 months after your one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Individuals can contact their health care provider or visit www.vaccines.gov to find a nearby location to receive a booster dose. People who have questions about vaccines and booster doses can call the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-833-621-1284.

No appointments necessary in Rock Island

The Rock Island County Health Department offers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson on Tuesdays and Pfizer on Friday. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. both days. No appointments are needed.

UnityPoint Health also is introducing a digital option to offer proof of vaccination status or negative test for established patients. For people who travel, or need to show vaccination status for an event, their COVID vaccination status can be accessed through MyUnityPoint (MyChart).

Chief Information Officer Laura Smith lauded the technology and how easy it is for patients to access.

“The Quick Response (QR) code can be scanned at the point of service, printed or saved to another mobile app,” Smith said Friday. “A business can then read the QR code which displays vaccination status, or dates and results of recent COVID-19 tests.”

Established UnityPoint Health patients can simply log in to MyUnityPoint, click on “Menu,” then “COVID-19” and finally “QR codes” to access this feature.

150 new Illinois deaths in past week

The IDPH on Friday reported 28,280 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 150 additional deaths since reporting last Nov. 12, 2021. New cases of COVID increased 25% from last week. 

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,763,866 cases, including 26,227 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.

The Rock Island County Health Department reported three COVID deaths Friday — a man in his 90s who had been hospitalized; a man in his 70s who had been hospitalized; and a man in his 70s who had been living in a long-term-care facility. The total number of deaths is now 382.

The health department also reported 142 cases of COVID since the last report on Wednesday. The total number of cases is 19,843. Currently, 19 patients are hospitalized in the county with the virus. The average age of newly infected patients is 33.

Of Illinois’ total population, approximately 67% has received at least one COVID vaccine dose and almost 61% of Illinois’ population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nationally, 69 percent of all people ages 12 and up have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, and 32.5 million of those people have received a booster dose since Aug. 13. In Rock Island and Scott counties, 64 percent of the population 12 and older have been fully vaccinated.

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