CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Health is urging those eligible to get the newly approved Bivalent booster shots.

“Once the updated booster shots become available next week, I urge everyone in Illinois who is eligible to take advantage of the opportunity to get fully protected before we enter the fall season,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said. “These new bivalent vaccines are designed to offer extra protection against the Omicron variants which are now the dominant strain of the virus. Getting up to date now is especially important for those who are at risk of serious outcomes as the updated vaccines offer protection from hospitalization and even death.”

IDPH is advising this as COVID-19 cases continue to stay at an elevated level. 26,127 cases were announced last week with 90 counties in the state at an elevated level for COVID-19. There have been 70 deaths related to COVID-19 since August 26.

The FDA granted emergency use authorization said officials for two new Bivalent booster vaccines that include an mRNA component of the original strain to provide a better immune response for the Omicron variant(s).

The vaccine is authorized for use as a single booster dose for 18-year-olds and up. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for 12-year-olds and up.

IDPH said they expect to receive 580,000 doses this week for distribution. This is in addition to the 150,000 doses for Chicago. The updated boosters will be available at pharmacies, hospitals, and healthcare providers.

A total of 3,696,385 cases have been reported to IDPH since the beginning of the pandemic. There have been 34,747 deaths in 102 different counties since the pandemic started.

IDPH reports that as of Friday night, 1,263 people in Illinois are in the hospital with COVID-19. 154 of those patients are on ventilators.

The counties listed at a high community spread are: Adams, Champaign, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Grundy, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Macon, Massac, Perry, Pike, Shelby, Stephenson, Vermilion, Wabash, Wayne, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, and Winnebago.

The CDC recommends the following for those living or working in areas of high community spread:

  • Wear a mask or a respirator that provides you with greater protection
  • Consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not you need to take other precautions
  • Have a plan for rapid testing
  • If you test positive: talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, and monoclonal antibodies
  • If you have household and social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease: consider testing before contact, stay up to date with vaccines and boosters, maintain improved ventilation through indoor spaces, and follow CDC recommendations for testing, isolation, and quarantining.