COVID Illinois

IDPH endorses new guidance on COVID-19 booster shots

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says it is endorsing new CDC guidance on administering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, and is working to connect residents with resources to get the shots in coming weeks.

Those new doses, specifically-formulated to target descendants of the XBB.1.5 COVID variant, could be available within the next 24 hours, according to officials, and all residents age 6 months and older are encouraged to get it.

“I recommend the updated vaccine for everyone 6 months and older,” Dr. Sameer Vahora, director of IDPH, said. “These shots will prevent hospitalizations and severe outcomes, and are especially important for those who are over 65, immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions.”

According to the updated guidance, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine formulations now target currently circulating variants that have spun off of the XBB.1.5 variant. More than 90% of COVID viruses circulating are closely related to XBB.1.5, according to the CDC.

This news comes as COVID cases continue to rise in Illinois and in the rest of the U.S. Officials with IDPH say that COVID hospitalizations are up in Illinois to the tune of 7% over the previous week. 12 counties are now at a medium level of hospitalizations, with more than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents in the last week.

While the recommendation is that all eligible residents receive a dose of the new COVID vaccine, some individuals in vulnerable groups, including those 4 years of age and younger or those with weakened immune systems, may need multiple doses, according to officials.

Another complicating factor is the cost of vaccines, which will no longer be covered by the federal government. According to IDPH officials, the CDC’s “Bridge Access Program” can help cover the cost of COVID vaccines this fall for uninsured individuals.

Those with private insurance or Medicare likely won’t have to pay for vaccines either, according to health officials.

 More information can be found on the CDC’s website.

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