Ezike promotes 'boosterizing' state against COVID-19, and first shots for others

  • Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike is administered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccination by site manager Mary Barkho at a state community drive-through vaccination and testing site Thursday in Aurora.

    Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike is administered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccination by site manager Mary Barkho at a state community drive-through vaccination and testing site Thursday in Aurora. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Media

 
 
Updated 10/28/2021 7:12 PM

About 71% of Illinoisans who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines have gotten at least one shot, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data.

The remaining 29% loomed large as IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike received a COVID-19 booster shot Thursday at a state vaccination and testing site in Aurora.

 

The event was intended to promote COVID-19 boosters and remind unvaccinated residents there are multiple opportunities to get a COVID-19 shot.

"As I am getting my third, for those of you who have not gotten your first -- you are behind, and it's time to change that," said Ezike, who received a Pfizer booster. "You can get that done and get caught up today and get the best possible protection that we have available against this coronavirus."

On Wednesday, 66,668 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 46,088. Currently, vaccinations are approved for individuals age 12 and older.

Ezike said she wanted to lead by example by getting her booster. Pfizer and Moderna's boosters are approved six months after a second dose for people age 65 and older, those with serious medical conditions or those who work in high-risk settings, such as hospitals. Anyone who had Johnson & Johnson's shot at least two months ago is approved for a second dose.

She encouraged people with loved ones in nursing homes to check on booster programs.

"You should be calling that facility to ask, 'Have you boosterized my loved one?'" Ezike said.

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But "while we continue to talk about boosters, we cannot forget about the unvaccinated," she said. The state is on "the down swing" of the delta variant surge that began this summer.

However, nationwide "18- to 49-year-olds who are not vaccinated made up 44% of all the hospitalizations," she said. "So thinking that this is a disease of only elderly people, just your great-grandparents, that is not the case, and delta unfortunately has highlighted that."

Aurora Mayor Richard Irwin said the city has pushed COVID-19 vaccines from the start, publicizing local leaders getting shots and targeting Black and brown communities where there may be hesitancy.

But in parts of the city's east side, fully vaccinated rates are as low as 40%, he said. "Clearly, we have some work to do."

New cases of COVID-19 totaled 2,601 Thursday with 43 more deaths from the respiratory disease, the IDPH reported.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Illinois hospitals were treating 1,228 COVID-19 patients Wednesday night.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 1.9% based on a seven-day average.

So far, 7,244,701 people in the state have been fully vaccinated or nearly 56.9% of Illinois' 12.7 million population.

The federal government has delivered 18,559,125 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 15,480,626 shots have been administered.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,692,875 and 25,749 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 138,167 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

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