CHAMPAIGN — Just two weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, three East Central Illinois counties are at an elevated level for COVID-19.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said Vermilion, Iroquois and Edgar counties are all at a medium COVID-19 level, based on the number of coronavirus-related hospital admissions they had last week.
In all, there are 10 counties in the state at an elevated, medium COVID-19 level, while the rest of the state remains at a low level for COVID-19 hospitalizations, he said.
Others at a medium level, meaning they had from 10 to 19.9 COVID-19-related hospital admissions per 100,000 population, included Effingham, Fayette, Jefferson, Jo Daviess, Kankakee, Stephenson and Wayne counties.
Vohra was in Champaign on Wednesday to get both his updated COVID-19 and flu shots at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District — and to emphasize the importance of getting up to date on vaccines as the holidays and their associated big family gatherings approach.
For those who have held back, he said, if you get vaccinated now, you’ll be fully protected in time for Thanksgiving.
“You know this is a decision that is incredibly important, a decision I’m making here today,” he said.
It’s also important to protect communities from the triple impact of flu, COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases referred to as the tripledemic last winter, according to Vohra.
According to the latest available count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than one-fourth (21.1 percent) of Illinois residents age-eligible for COVID-19 vaccine were fully up to date on recommended vaccinations as of Sept. 12.
That was just before the release of the new COVID-19 vaccine, which has been reformulated to protect against the latest virus strains circulating.
The percentage up to date may be a bit higher now, Vohra said.
How many people have gotten the new COVID-19 vaccine has been more challenging to track, since it’s being distributed through the commercial market rather than through the federal government, according to state public health spokesman Mike Claffey.
Vohra said supplies of COVID-19 and flu vaccines are adequate, though national shortages are being seen for the new RSV vaccine.
COVID-19 treatments are also in adequate supply, he said, and now is the time to check in with your health care provider to make sure you have a plan for accessing treatment if you become ill.
While the vaccines are being distributed through doctors’ offices and pharmacies, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has also been making vaccines available through outreach clinics to those who otherwise lack access, according to district Administrator Julie Pryde.