Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that the state of Illinois is receiving more COVID doses by the day, and that vaccination efforts so far have been wildly successful in preventing serious illness from the disease.
According to Ezike, just 72 of the more than 2.5 million individuals in the state who have been fully vaccinated against the virus have been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 following their shots, with just 0.003% of vaccinated individuals developing serious-enough cases of the virus to be hospitalized.
Ezike used those numbers to emphasize that rising COVID hospitalizations in the state are coming from those individuals who have not been vaccinated, and that the data proves that getting the vaccine is the most effective way to avoid serious illness.
“The overwhelming majority of COVID hospitalizations are coming from people who have not been vaccinated,” Ezike said. “Unfortunately, there are many people who are not vaccinated, but we are working on that.”
As of Thursday, 2,571,654 Illinois residents, 20.18% of the state’s population, have been fully vaccinated against the virus. More than 6.7 million doses of the vaccine have been administered so far.
State officials are now in a race against the virus, as cases and hospitalizations have surged in recent weeks. According to IDPH data, nearly 1,800 individuals are currently hospitalized because of the virus, the highest number the state has seen since mid-February.
Nearly 3,800 new COVID cases have been reported each of the last two days, with positivity rates also steadily increasing as more areas see increases in cases.
Those figures are worrying some state health experts, who say that additional mitigation strategies, including frequent hand-washing, social distancing and masking, are all key to keeping the virus at bay until a vaccine becomes widespread enough to ensure herd immunity.
“This goes hand-in-hand with the number of rising cases,” Ezike said. “We have a vaccine and we are elated about that, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is completely over. We need to wear our masks before we can return to what we were doing pre-pandemic.”