illinois coronavirus

Illinois Prepares to Increase Booster Shots as More Residents Become Eligible

Ben Hasty | MediaNews Group | Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Illinois health officials detailed a plan Tuesday to get more COVID-19 booster shots in the arms of residents across the state as more doses become available.

As more residents become eligible for boosters in coming weeks, the Illinois Department of Public Health plans to increase education and provide skilled nursing facilities to administer shots.

“We know that COVID-19 vaccines are life-saving," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. "For our seniors, you’re 29 times more likely to end up in the hospital if you’re unvaccinated. Boosters will extend that life-saving protection."

According to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, residents age 65 and older, adults above age 18 with underlying medical conditions and those who work in "high-risk" settings are eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The CDC will review booster shot recommendations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines Wednesday and Thursday, with final authorization expected by the end of the week, according to health officials.

Federal regulators are also expected this week to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID booster shots, allowing for patients to receive a booster dose of a vaccine that's different from the vaccine type used for the initial vaccination series.

"While COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, scientists and medical experts continue to watch for signs of waning immunity, how well the vaccines protect against variants, and how that data differs across age groups and risk factors," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.

While pushing for booster shots in Illinois, Pritzker noted that he's hopeful mask mandates will be lifted in time for the upcoming holidays, but urged caution as he said the state will rely on data for making that decision.

Speaking to reporters after delivering a COVID update Tuesday encouraging booster shots statewide, Pritzker said state health officials are "continuing again to watch the numbers" daily to "determine when the right time is," though he noted that the time is not now.

"I know pretty much every moment of every day you've wanted us to remove every single mitigation," he said. "Every question that you give is a question about removing mitigations. I want them to go away too, but we want to make sure that we're keeping people healthy and safe following the guidelines that doctors are offering for us. And so we'll continue to do that and obviously we want to remove the mitigations as we approach the holidays. These are, you know, that's an important marker for us."

Contact Us