Who is Driving COVID-19 Outbreaks in Chicago? Unvaccinated Teenagers

The city's top doctor said unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds are at a much higher risk of getting COVID.

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As COVID-19 cases in Chicago continue to creep up, the highest rate of transmission the city is seeing is among unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds. 

"Unvaccinated teenagers are not only driving a lot of our outbreak right now, but they are [at a] much, much higher risk of getting COVID,” said Dr. Allison Arwday, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, during a Facebook Live event Tuesday.

Chicago's seven-day vaccination average shows the lowest percent of vaccines administered among 5- to 11-year-olds, followed by 12- to 17-year-olds.

COVID-19 cases in Chicago are up by 10 percent over the previous week, with unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds recording the sharpest increase among people unvaccinated.

The city's top doctor said unvaccinated 15- to 17-year-olds in Chicago are seven times as likely as their fully vaccinated counterparts to have been diagnosed with COVID, and unvaccinated 12- to 14-year-olds are more than 10 times as likely.

Hospitalizations have been relatively flat among teenagers but have sharply increased among people over the age of 65.

"Unvaccinated Chicagoans of all ages are more likely to be hospitalized," Arwday said.

Chicago remains in "high transmission" for COVID-19 risk, with 455 cases diagnosed per day. Arwday expects to see the number continue to increase.

Children as young as 5 years old are now eligible for coronavirus vaccines. For adults seeking booster shots, the Cook County Department of Public Health on Tuesday said "no one seeking a booster will be turned away from a vaccination site."

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