Booster shots outpacing demand for initial round of COVID-19 vaccines

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved booster shots for all three COVID-19 vaccine types and issued new guidelines on eligibility.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved booster shots for all three COVID-19 vaccine types and issued new guidelines on eligibility. John Starks | Staff Photographer, March 8

 
 
Updated 10/23/2021 8:53 AM

More people in Illinois are getting COVID-19 booster shots each day than are receiving their first or second doses of the vaccine.

That's according to new data released Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

 

IDPH figures show that between Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, 53.1% of the 864,052 doses administered were booster shots. The data shows 24.6% of the doses were first shots while 22.3% were second shots.

The statewide vaccination data is consistent with what Cook County Department of Public Health officials reported.

Last week, 52% of the 31,521 doses administered in suburban Cook County were booster shots, compared to 48% that were first or second doses, officials said.

The booster shots administered recently are only Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine, but demand is expected to rise in the coming days after federal regulators' approval of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters.

In the wake of that announcement, officials from several national pharmacy chains, like CVS and Walgreens, announced Friday they are taking appointments for boosters of all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"More than 9,800 CVS locations across the nation will be administering booster shots for eligible patients, including the more than 100 CVS locations across Chicagoland and 400 throughout Illinois," a CVS statement read.

To make an appointment for a booster shot at CVS, visit their website cvs.com. For appointments at a Walgreens, visit walgreens.com.

A government-operated website called vaccines.gov allows you to find vaccination sites anywhere in the country as well.

Everyone 65 and older is eligible for a booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines if at least six months have passed since their second dose. Also eligible are people 18 and older who live in long-term care facilities, have medical conditions that place them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, or work or live in a high-risk setting, according to CDC guidelines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For everyone who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC recommends a booster if the initial shot was at least two months ago.

The CDC also has said the vaccines can be mixed and matched.

In addition to the demand for boosters, the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved for children from ages 5 to 11 early next month. A recent Pfizer report showed the vaccine to be 91% effective in that age group.

Pharmacy chains will be among those able to provide the smaller-dose Pfizer vaccine to children, but many pediatricians will also receive supplies.

While most pediatricians are waiting until the CDC makes a decision to set up any clinics, at least one suburban pediatric group has already begun planning for a wave of parents seeking the Pfizer vaccine for their children 5 to 11 years old.

"We're kind of out on a limb if it doesn't get approved, but the quicker we get it out, the better it is," said Dr. Richard Pervos, of Sanders Court Pediatrics in Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove. "I feel bad for our receptionists. They've been fielding calls all day."

The pediatrician began taking appointments for Nov. 9 and beyond to administer the vaccine to his younger patients and expects to provide 50 to 75 shots a day.

The vaccine for children 5 to 11 will be marked in a different vial than those for anyone 12 and older, and it will be about half the amount given to older kids and adults, Pervos said.

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