A new recommendation for booster shots from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for millions of Americans will open a new phase in the U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19.
Plus, how worried are public health officials this fall and winter about the potential for another surge?
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Walgreens to Begin Appointments for COVID Vaccine Booster Shots
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Walgreens is now offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all eligible people beginning this weekend, the company announced Friday.
The Illinois-based pharmacy chain said booster shots will now be available in stores nationwide following announcements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Walgreens has played a vital role in responding to COVID-19 as millions have turned to us as a convenient vaccination destination and critical point of community care,” John Standley, president of Walgreens, said in a statement. “In addition to providing booster shots, our pharmacy teams remain readily available to advise patients, address questions and co-administer flu and COVID-19 primary vaccines to help protect our communities.”
Beginning Saturday, eligible people can schedule appointments for their booster shots, along with additional immunizations such as the flu shot, here, or by calling 1-800-Walgreens. New patients will be required to verify their eligibility, the company said.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 21,787 New COVID Cases, 239 Deaths, 135K Vaccinations in the Past Week
Illinois health officials on Friday reported 21,787 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, along with 239 additional deaths and over 135,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,612,129 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 24,783 confirmed COVID fatalities.
Who is Eligible for COVID Booster Shots and When After CDC Announcement?
Who is eligible for a COVID vaccine booster shot and when following the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?
The CDC on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday. However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.
CDC Chief Endorses Pfizer COVID Booster for People 65+, Younger At-Risk Workers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday. The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.
However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.
Read more here.
Are Officials Concerned About Another Surge for Fall and Winter? Top Doctors Answer
How worried should Chicago-area residents be heading into fall and winter? Could heightened mitigations ultimately return if COVID cases rise further?
State and local health officials say they're concerned heading into the fall season, a time that previously prompted questions over a "twindemic" between coronavirus and flu.
As the delta variant sparked a surge across the country in recent months, there are fears of additional variants and a cold and flu season that could be worse than what was seen in 2020, when pandemic restrictions dramatically limited cases of common illnesses.
Read more here.
Biden Set to Visit Chicago Next Week, ‘Highlight' Vaccine Mandates
President Joe Biden is expected to visit Chicago next week to "highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for businesses," the White House confirmed Thursday.
Biden's visit is slated to take place on Wednesday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports the visit will spotlight a Chicago business enforcing a vaccine mandate.
REAL ID Deadline Extended to 2023: The Impact on Illinois and What Else to Know
Illinois residents who have yet to obtain a REAL ID won't be required to for more than a year-and-a-half, but those who choose to can get one sooner rather than later.
In late April, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security delayed the requirement of air travelers to have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to May 3, 2023. The previous deadline was Oct. 1.
A widespread shift to appointment-only scheduling protocols during the pandemic significantly limited states’ capacity to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, DHS officials said in a news release. As of late April, only 43% of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in the U.S. were REAL ID-compliant.
REAL IDs will be required for those who don't have a valid U.S. passport or passport card and use airplanes as a mode of domestic transportation and visit military bases and/or secure facilities.
Limited Oak Park River Forest HS Homecoming Dance Leaves Some Students on Waiting List
Dances are a big part of the high school experience, but one local high school’s efforts to split their homecoming dance in half in order to comply with COVID safety protocols has students and parents upset.
Students at Oak Park River Forest High School are planning to attend homecoming festivities this weekend, but ticket sales were limited due to the pandemic, and students say they are missing out.
Read more here.
Chicago Announces Return of City's Popular Holiday Traditions, Events
After a holiday season that saw the cancellation of several popular traditions in Chicago, the city has announced the return of some of the most beloved events and activities for fall and winter.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that in-person holiday festivities will return this year, beginning with Halloween.
According to the mayor's office and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Halloween community events will return citywide.
In addition, winter traditions will return at Millennium Park, including ice skating and the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which will be held on Nov. 19.
Read more here.
Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?
With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.
Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?
According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.