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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Cook County Vaccine Appointments, CPS and CTU Reach Deal

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Cook County will release approximately 10,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccination appointments on Friday.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union leadership have reached a tentative agreement to return to in-person instruction for high schoolers starting Monday.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Revamps COVID Vaccination Rollout After Pausing Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Chicago officials announced updated plans for the city's COVID-19 vaccination rollout after pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines following federal recommendations.

Chicago ordered a temporarily halt of the single-dose vaccine based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as they investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

Here are the latest updates to the city's vaccination plan:

  • The Chicago State University mass vaccination site switched to Pfizer vaccine beginning Wednesday
  • The Protect Chicago Homebound program will switch to Pfizer vaccine with appointments resuming Friday
  • Events scheduled with Walgreens as part of the Faith Month initiative this weekend will use the Pfizer vaccine
  • Chicago Federation of Labor vaccination site will switch to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but limited to 1,200 doses per week. Appointments resume on Monday
  • Events with the Illinois Restaurant Association are on hold until the week of April 26
  • The O'Hare vaccination site previously using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will close. Anyone with a scheduled appointment will be invited to receive a vaccination at Wright College or the United Center
  • The Chicago Department of Public Health-Chicago Transit Authority vaccination bus remains on pause
  • All other vaccination locations in Chicago using Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will operate as normal

Read more here.

Chicago to Host Vaccination Clinic at Loretto Hospital After Pausing Doses During Controversy

Weeks after Chicago first cut off vaccine supply to the West Side's Loretto Hospital, the city has announced a new vaccination event at the facility for area residents.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said it will open a city-managed vaccination clinic at Loretto Hospital beginning April 21 for residents of the Austin neighborhood.

"Located onsite at the hospital, the new clinic will increase vaccine access on the West Side while ensuring all vaccination guidelines are stringently followed," the department said in a release.

Previously, the city paused vaccine shipments to the facility after reports surfaced that the hospital hosted a series of COVID vaccination events involving alleged favoritism, including one in which ineligible Trump Tower workers were vaccinated.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 3,866 New COVID Cases, 21 Deaths, 166K Vaccinations

Illinois health officials reported 3,866 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 21 additional deaths in the last day, along with nearly 167,000 vaccinations administered.

In the last 24 hours, 93,602 coronavirus test specimens were returned to state laboratories, with more than 21.5 million now conducted during the pandemic.

The statewide positivity remained the same Friday, with 4.2% of all tests returning positive results. The positivity rate for individuals tested in the last seven days also remained at 4.9%, according to IDPH data.

As of Friday, the state has administered over 7.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic, while receiving 9,777,825 doses.

Read more here.

Cook County Health to Release 10,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Friday

The Cook County Health department announced it will release approximately 10,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccination appointments on Friday.

According to a press release, the appointments will be made available to the public at 12 p.m. on Friday.

County vaccinations will be by appointment only. Appointments can be made at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or by calling (833) 308-1988 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, or from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays.

Read more here.

CPS, CTU Reach Tentative Deal to Return to in-Person High School Classes Monday

Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union leadership have reached a tentative agreement to return to in-person instruction for high schoolers starting Monday, April 19.

The tentative agreement will be voted on by the CTU’s House of Delegates as part of the union’s review process, according to CPS.

“In-person learning will resume for high school students for the first time in more than a year, and for the first time since March 2020 students in all grade levels at CPS have access to in-person learning,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said in a statement.

In-person learning for high schoolers has been paused since the coronavirus pandemic sent students home for remote learning in March 2020.

Retired Doctors and Nurses Help at Mass Vax Sites as More Volunteers Needed in Kane County

Retired doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are volunteering at Chicago area mass vaccination clinics are serving vital roles in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. William Johnston, who retired four years ago, is now administering vaccine doses at one of Kane County’s mass vaccination sites in suburban Batavia.

“I was an ER doctor for about fifteen years and then I finished my career as an occupational and industrial medicine doctor, so we were very familiar with vaccinations and public health initiatives,” Johnston said.

The Kane County Health Department recently opened its third mass vaccination site, and the department said it is seeing a need for more volunteers. For more information about volunteering for the medical reserve corps in Kane County, more information can be found on the health department's website.

Read more here.

Several Illinois Regions Could be Nearing Additional COVID Mitigations

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state of Illinois, several of the state’s health care regions are nearing metrics thresholds that could cause them to tighten COVID restrictions in coming days.

According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, at least four regions, including Regions 2, 7, 8 and 9, could potentially qualify for increased mitigations due to increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations.

In Region 2, located in western Illinois, the positivity rate is now up to 7.3%, increasing on seven of the preceding 10 days. The region’s ICU bed availability has been below 20% for six consecutive days, and hospitalizations have increased each of the last 10 days.

In Region 7, comprised of Will and Kankakee counties, the positivity rate is at 6.1%, but has increased eight of the last 10 days. Hospitalizations have also increased eight of the last 10 days.

In Region 8, comprised of Kane and DuPage counties, the positivity rate is now at 7.4%, increasing seven of the last 10 days, with hospitalizations increasing each of the last 10 days.

In Region 9, comprised of McHenry and Lake counties, the positivity rate stands at 4.7%, but has increased eight of the last 10 days. Hospitalizations have also increased eight of the last 10 days.

Read more here.

New Cook County COVID Vaccination Site Opens in Suburban Matteson

A new large-scale community COVID vaccination site, located at 4647 Promenade Way in southern Cook County, launched Wednesday for all residents ages 16 and older.

The Matteson site will be run through Cook County Health with assistance from the Illinois National Guard.

The new vaccination site opened Wednesday at 1 p.m. to all Illinois residents ages 16 and older after Illinois moved to Phase 2 of vaccine eligibility on Monday.

Read more here.

Are COVID Vaccines FDA Approved? Here's How the Process Works

News that Moderna was inching closer to requesting full approval of its COVID vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has led to some questions surrounding the approval process for the coronavirus vaccines this week.

Currently, no coronavirus vaccine is fully approved by the FDA, but three were given emergency use authorization by the agency.

They include vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the last of which regulators recommended be paused Tuesday while they investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots in a small number of women.

Emergency use authorization allows a vaccine to become available prior to full approval in the case of public health emergencies. The FDA can revoke the EUA at any time.

Read more here.

Here's How Many Cases of the 4 COVID Variants Have Been Identified in Illinois

More than 1,000 cases of four COVID variants currently circulating in the U.S. have been identified in Illinois, state health officials say, as data from a state lab has found the variants are becoming "much more prominent" amid a continued rise in cases.

A total of 1,051 cases of the four variants have been identified as of Tuesday, when the Illinois Department of Public Health last updated the variant case numbers. But experts have cautioned that the number of cases of variants may be higher because not all positive COVID tests are being tested to determine which variant they may be.

The four variants are: the U.K. variant known as B.1.1.7, the South African variant called B.1351, the Brazil variant known as P.1 and a fourth variant out of California called B.147/429.

Read more here.

COVID Hospitalizations Have Nearly Doubled in Illinois Over Last Month: IDPH

As health officials monitor rapid increases in coronavirus cases in the state of Illinois, hospitalizations have also been on the rise, nearly doubling over the course of the last month.

Those numbers are still well below where the state was at its peak in late 2020, but also represent a sharp increase from the low watermark that was set in mid-March, according to IDPH.

Read more here.

IDPH Says J&J Vaccine Pause ‘Will Not Have a Large Impact' on State Vaccinations

Illinois' decision to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "will not have a large impact" on the state's vaccination plans, health officials said Tuesday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced plans to temporarily halt the administration of the single-dose vaccine following a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as they investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

“Public health officials made a commitment that any safety signals that came up concerning COVID-19 vaccines would be fully addressed in a transparent manner, which is what is occurring right now with the J&J vaccine,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “The blood clot cases appear to be extremely rare and there are no reported cases associated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines. IDPH is taking immediate action to ensure as little disruption to Illinois residents as possible during this pause, and I strongly encourage people to continue to get vaccinated. Millions upon millions of people have already been safely vaccinated and it will take millions more before we can put this pandemic behind us.” 

Health officials say a majority of Illinois' vaccine doses are from Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines. Of the expected 483,720 doses the state is set to receive next week, 5,800 were set to be Johnson & Johnson.

Read more here.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Blood Clots: Symptoms to Watch For, Who is at Risk

What are the symptoms you should watch for if you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine prior to U.S. regulators recommending a “pause” to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST?

To learn more about what you should watch for, click here.

Illinois Allocating 50K First Doses to Chicago Over the Next Week

After Illinois and Chicago both paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine amid a federal review on Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state will allocate 50,000 first doses of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to Chicago over the next seven days.

The state will then allocate another 50,000 doses in time for second shots to be administered, Pritzker said.

"As cases climb across the country, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he tweeted. "We can end this pandemic together."

Illinois to Pause Johnson & Johnson Vaccine After FDA and CDC Recommendation

Illinois will pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "out of an abundance of caution" following a recommendation from the CDC and FDA, the state's health department said Tuesday.

"IDPH has notified all Illinois COVID-19 providers throughout the state to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine at this time," the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. "In order to keep appointments, IDPH is strongly advising providers to use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines."

"IDPH will continue to update the public as additional information becomes available," the department's statement read.

Read more here.

Chicago Pauses J&J Vaccine After CDC and FDA Recommendation

Chicago is pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, the city said Tuesday, based on U.S. regulators' recommendation.

"Vaccine safety is always our top priority. In accordance with a recommendation from the CDC and FDA, the City of Chicago has paused administering the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine while federal health officials complete a review," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.

"We are working closely with our partners at the federal and local level to determine how this impacts the city’s vaccine operations," the statement said.

"We are not aware of any local cases. While incredibly rare, anyone who has received the J&J vaccine who develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after their vaccination should contact their health provider," the city said. "This recommendation does not affect Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in any way. Vaccination remains critical to protect Chicagoans from COVID-19 and we will share more information as we receive it."

Chicago has received a total of 91,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in five shipments since February, according to the city's data. It's not clear how many of those doses have already been administered.

Read more here.

Cook County to Pause Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Amid Federal Review

Cook County is pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, county health officials said Tuesday.

"Following guidance released this morning from the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cook County Health will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the FDA and CDC complete their review," a spokeswoman for Cook County Health said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Individuals with appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week will instead receive the first dose of either Moderna or Pfizer's vaccine, depending on the vaccination site, the county said. Anyone who has a scheduled appointment but does not want the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine should call 833-308-1988 to cancel or reschedule their appointment, officials said.

"The Cook County Department of Public Health has asked all Johnson & Johnson partners to pause using the vaccine as well," the county said, adding that it will provide additional information "as it becomes available."

Read more here.

COVID-19 Funeral Financial Assistance Now Available

The staggering tolls from COVID-19 led the federal government to declare the pandemic a disaster, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to step in an offer financial help to the more than half million families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus. 

"At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate."

Starting Monday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST), anyone who qualifies can call (844) 684-6333, the dedicated toll-free phone number to get an application completed with help from FEMA's representatives.

Read more here.

Illinois COVID Vaccine Eligibility Opens: Here's What You Need to Know

Illinois COVID vaccine eligibility expanded to anyone age 16 and older, except for in the city of Chicago, on Monday.

For a look at what you need to know, click here.

Chicago Residents ‘Welcome' to Sign Up For COVID Vaccine Appointments in Suburbs, Officials Say

Chicago residents are welcome to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Illinois mass vaccinations sites throughout the suburbs, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last week.

"They're absolutely welcome to," Pritzker said. "I want to make sure that people in Chicago know that they are welcome to sign up for our mass vaccination sites."

Pritzker said he knows Chicago opens vaccine eligibility to all residents age 16 and older on April 19. Hence, he said, people should feel able to make appointments in the suburbs as the rest of Illinois opens eligibility on Monday.

Read more here.

Illinois Vaccinations

Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

 

Which COVID Vaccine is Best For You and How Long Do They Last?

As new studies surrounding COVID vaccine efficacy and how long both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines last continue to emerge, how can you know which is best for you? According to medical experts, the vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer some level of protection.

For a breakdown, click here.

What Makes You More Likely to Get Side Effects From COVID Vaccine?

Side effects are possible after receiving either one or two doses of any of the coronavirus vaccines currently being administered in the U.S., but not everyone experiences them. Experiencing side effects isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's a sign your body is responding.

So what makes someone more likely to experience them than others?

Women and younger people are more likely to report side effects, experts say, while side effects could also vary depending on whether or not you've had coronavirus.

People are more likely to report side effects after their second dose, Chicago's top doctor said, echoing reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But not getting side effects isn't negative, health experts say.

Read more here.

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