More than 188,000 Illinois residents have been given a dose of the newly-updated bivalent COVID-19 booster shots, which health officials assert will likely be key to curbing an anticipated coronavirus surge in the coming months.
The modified boosters, which contain half the original COVID-19 vaccine recipe and half protection against the newest omicron subvariants, were authorized by federal health regulators at the beginning of September and started being given out days later.
As a result of increasing demand for the bivalent vaccines, daily vaccination numbers have reached their highest point since February, the Illinois Department of Health said Friday. More than 21,000 daily doses have been administered, on average, over the past week, which is twice the daily average throughout the majority of summer.
Interest seems to be the highest for the elderly, who are at an increased risk of contracting severe illness than other groups.
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People age 65 and older have received approximately 44% of Illinois' bivalent vaccine doses, although the age group only accounts for approximately 20% of the state's population, state data revealed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only those who have completed a full COVID vaccine series -- which consists of either two Moderna or Pfizer shots, or one Johnson & Johnson shot -- are eligible to receive the modified booster. Additionally, the shots have certain age restrictions, which are listed below:
- Individuals 18 and older are eligible to receive either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s updated COVID booster shot
- Only Pfizer booster doses can be administered to those aged 12 through 17
- While those younger than 18 years old are eligible for the new COVID booster, they aren't eligible for the Moderna dose
Unlike previous boosters, which may have only been recommended for those who are older or immunocompromised, the new booster shots are recommended for anyone in an eligible age group. Those who previously received a booster shot can also get the updated shot, as long as their last booster dose was at least two months prior, according to the latest guidance.
Prior to the rollout, IDPH said it expected to receive 580,000 doses of the new booster shots, while the city of Chicago was poised to receive a separate 150,000 doses. It's unclear if more shipments are anticipated in the coming days.
Information about where to find the boosters and how to make an appointment is available here.