IDPH Director Visits Champaign-Urbana Public Health District to Take Part in COVID-19 Vaccination Event
State of Illinois is Reminding Illinoisans, ‘Tis the Sneezin' to Get Protected from the Full Range of Seasonal Respiratory Viruses
CHICAGO - The Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Dr. Sameer Vohra visited the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (C-UPHD) today and rolled up his sleeve to receive the new COVID-19 shot and a flu shot. The visit comes as ten Illinois counties are at an elevated level for COVID-19 hospitalizations according to the CDC's national COVID Data Tracker as of the week ending October 28. The vast majority of counties in the state remain at low level for COVID-19 hospitalizations, however there was a 13% percent increase in hospitalizations statewide.
"I am happy to be here in Champaign-Urbana at the C-U Public Health District to share a very important message: NOW is the best time to protect yourself and your family members from the seasonal viruses that caused last year's ‘tripledemic' of COVID-19, flu and RSV," said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. "I am here today to get both a COVID-19 and flu shot - the two vaccines that I am eligible to receive. If you get your shots this week, you will have full protection by the time Thanksgiving arrives later this month."
"The well-being of our community is our foremost priority, and as such, we remain dedicated to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines," said C-UPHD Administrator Julie Pryde. "Additionally, we want to emphasize the importance of vaccines in protecting our communities from infectious diseases such as RSV, COVID, and influenza. As we work together to safeguard public health, we remain resolute in our efforts to make vaccines available and accessible to those who need them most."
The new COVID-19 vaccines that are recommended for use by the CDC are proven to be effective at preventing serious outcomes like hospitalizations, deaths and even long Covid.
Last month, IDPH launched a new awareness campaign called 'Tis the Sneezin' to remind Illinoisans to vaccinate against the fall and winter triple threat of COVID-19, flu and RSV. The
campaign showcases everyday moments interrupted by common respiratory virus symptoms, along with a humorous call to action to encourage vaccinations. Following are some examples (click on links to see videos):
- Rideshare: Don't pick up illnesses this winter. Vaccines can keep you healthy through the holiday sneezin'.
- Elevator: Ding! Sneezin' season is coming up. Avoid coming down with symptoms by getting up to date on all vaccines.
- Detention: Teach the flu, COVID and RSV a lesson on who's boss. Get vaccinated and avoid the holiday sneezin'.
- Selfie: Sickness always has the worst timing. Get protected from the holiday sneezin' by getting vaccinated.
The campaign will reach Illinoisans in every corner of the state in both English and Spanish through a variety of traditional and online media channels, including cable, broadcast and connected TV; streaming audio and radio; billboards and bus shelters; digital display and video; print and social media.
In September, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended newly reformulated COVID-19 shots for everyone over the age of 6 months. The federal agencies have given the green light for updated mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer that target the currently circulating strains of the COVID-19 virus. They also have recently approved an updated Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
These newly approved shots are considered safe when given at the same time as other vaccines for the flu and RSV.
Studies have consistently shown that COVID-19 vaccines lower the risk of getting symptomatic COVID-19 and improve protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death. New evidence is also emerging that it can protect you from long Covid and flu vaccines are also protective against heart disease. Most Americans can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. For people with health insurance, most plans will cover the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. People who don't have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from their local health centers and pharmacies.
For those who are uninsured or under-insured, the CDC this summer launched the Bridge Access Program that will cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccines this fall. The Vaccines for Children Program will cover vaccines for eligible children.
In June, the CDC's ACIP recommended use of a single dose of RSV vaccine for persons 60 years of age and older. In August, ACIP also recommended a new preventive measure against RSV for infants under 8 months and toddlers at high risk, a new monoclonal antibody shot called nirsevimab. This medication was the subject of the CDC's advisory that warned of shortages and urger healthcare provides to prioritize the use of nirsevimab.
On September 22, ACIP recommended seasonal administration of one dose of RSV vaccine during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy, to maximize protection for babies after birth.
For treatment of COVID-19, Illinoisans who experience symptoms can access no cost-share telehealth services through the SIU School of Medicine Covid Test to Treat services or call (217) 545-5100.
Illinois has more than 170,000 courses of effective therapeutic medications, including Paxlovid and Lagevrio, supplied through the US government that are available through providers and pharmacies that will continue to be provided free of charge to those with Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured until supplies run out. Paxlovid and Lagevrio will also be commercially available in November 2023.
The CDC recently launched a new national respiratory virus dashboard that allows the public to view the levels of COVID-19, flu and RSV in each state.
Additional resources and COVID-19 data can be found at https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19.html.
The federal government has established a website that provides an all-purpose toolkit with information on how to obtain masks, treatment, vaccines and testing resources for all areas of the country at: https://www.covid.gov/.