More than 186K Illinois kids ages 5 to 11 have received COVID vaccine
In the three weeks since officials authorized Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11, 186,569 Illinois kids in that cohort have received at least one dose, Illinois Department of Public Health data showed Wednesday.
And, overall vaccination tallies continued a strong showing compared to summer lows, with 74,804 more COVID-19 shots in arms as of Tuesday, higher than the seven-day average of 64,199.
Helping to prop up the numbers were 1.72 million booster shots administered as of Tuesday.
Why should you get a booster?
With rising COVID-19 caseloads and hospitalizations, "it's imperative that everybody who's eligible be vaccinated," said Dr. Gregory Huhn, infectious disease physician and COVID-19 vaccine lead for Cook County Health.
"The boosters themselves provide extra protection for those that may be in environments where there's unvaccinated people and there's risk of transmission, particularly in indoor spaces as the weather gets colder and we move more indoors."
Boosters, recommended after six months for people inoculated with the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and after two months for those who got Johnson & Johnson's one-dose shot, prop up waning immunity, Huhn explained.
"It revives what we call these memory cells that are reanimated to offer a very broad immune response that even covers the delta virus," a highly contagious variant of COVID-19.
Will another booster be required eventually?
"We really don't know that right now," Huhn said. "We don't know what the evolution of any variants is going to be now. It's possible we may need a booster on an annual basis. But if the numbers really start to go down appreciably after the winter time, then I think we'll examine that data and see if there's a need for another booster."
And what about mixing and matching doses with boosters? That's fine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. "Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster," officials said.
Huhn noted data shows people who received J&J's vaccine initially and switched to Pfizer or Moderna for their booster have found "the antibody responses really increase to a far greater degree than if you got another J&J."
State health officials reported 5,058 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, with 19 more deaths from the respiratory disease.
Illinois hospitals were treating 1,982 COVID-19 patients Tuesday night, the most since Sept. 22. The seven-day average for hospitalizations is 1,808.6.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.3% based on a seven-day average.
So far, 7,349,241 people have been fully vaccinated, about 57.7% of Illinois' 12.7 million residents.
The federal government has delivered 20,050,445 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 17,031,036 shots have been administered.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,784,900, and 26,313 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.
Labs processed 139,801 virus tests in the last 24 hours.