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More COVID-19 Vaccinations Needed To Prevent Winter Surges, Officials Say

The cold weather is expected to push people indoors, where transmission is more likely — especially for people who aren't fully vaccinated.

Katlin Stupegia of MobileVax holds a vial of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine at a special COVID-19 vaccination event with live performances for arts & culture workers held at Theater Wit in Lakeview on May 21, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — More people need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent further surges this winter, officials are saying.

The cold weather is expected to push people indoors, where transmission is more likely — especially for people who aren’t fully vaccinated. Many parts of the United States were hit hard by the virus during the winter last year.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Stanford, told The New York Times the next few months will be critical — but people getting their shots could prevent more coronavirus waves as people head indoors.

“Most of us don’t think we’re going to see the terrible surge we saw last winter,” she said. “That was horrific. I hope we never have to live through something like that again.”

Local officials have expressed similar concerns. Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has previously said she’s concerned less-vaccinated parts of Chicago could see surges in the fall and winter.

“I think I would be foolish to not be at all worried about fall/winter,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a livestream in late September.

A new variant that is resistant to the vaccines — or people not getting their flu and COVID-19 shots, leading to a double epidemic — could cause “significant trouble” in Chicago, Arwady said.

Only 58.3 percent of all Chicagoans are fully vaccinated; among residents 12 and older, all of whom are eligible to get vaccinated, that rises to 67.7 percent being fully vaccinated.

The vaccines could soon be available to more people, as Pfizer has asked the federal government to allow kids 5 and older to get their shots.


• In Illinois, about 7.1 million people — or 55.8 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 35,898 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,822,824 vaccine doses of the 17,727,225 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.57 million Chicagoans — or 58.3 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 63.5 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Thirty-five Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.

• At least 25,224 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,741 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,744 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,650,108.

• Since Thursday, 145,034 tests were reported statewide. In all, 32,938,108 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 2.1 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.2 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.6 percent. It was at 2.6 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 412 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 209 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, six deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,809 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, down 33 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has 381 had confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 320,216 confirmed cases. An average of 360 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 2 percent increase from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is up 4 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2.2 percent, down from 2.3 percent the week prior.

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