With Chicago COVID cases rising, health officials encourage booster shots for those eligible

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With COVID cases on the rise in Chicago as we head towards the holidays, health experts say everyone who is eligible should get their booster shots.

There are still questions about who can get those shots right now, but we could get more clarity this week from the CDC.

Tuesday was booster day for residents and staff at Admiral at the Lake, a long-term care facility in Edgewater. For Diane Bowman, getting her third Moderna shot before the holidays is a must.

"I'm doing some traveling over Christmas and flying and I think it's important to have this booster," she said.

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According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, about 34% of residents over 65 have received the booster, 23% for those 50 and over, and 15% for 18 and over. The rates are slightly higher than the national average.

"Although we are a little ahead of the U.S., we are not where we want to be still, particularly heading into holiday gatherings," CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

On Friday, a CDC advisory committee will meet to consider expanding booster eligibility. New York City and others are already giving the green light for anyone above 18 to get the booster.

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Even some medical ethicists who were once concerned about global vaccine inequities say there is more than enough already-bought vaccine in the U.S to boost everyone.

"I personally struggle with not wanting to be complicit in vaccine apartheid," said Dr. William Parker, a medical ethicist at University of Chicago Medicine. "But at the end of day, the individual decision to use one booster shot, especially if it's going to be thrown out at the end of the day, is uncontroversial from an ethical perspective."

For now, CDPH plans to follow CDC guidelines. Dr. Arwady said: "We're not formally going to say 'just get it if you are over 18,' but we are not turning folks away."

Arwady said the city's biggest priority will continue to be getting people their first doses, especially teenagers, who are now driving Chicago's new cases.

"The highest case rate in Chicago is actually 12 to 17-year-olds," Arwady said.

And for anyone above 5 years old who has yet to get their first dose, the city said you have until Saturday to be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
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