Dec 2, 2021 - COVID

Booster rates increase as Omicron approaches

Source: Chicago Department of Public Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

As Chicagoans worry about the arrival of the Omicron variant, health officials say the best way to prepare — and to reduce current high levels of Delta — is to vaccinate and boost.

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccination rates are still pretty low in certain communities and school groups where transmission is high.

  • And as Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) chief Allison Arwady explains, low vaccination rates actually drive new variants.

By the numbers: As of last week, 77% of Chicagoans 12 and up had gotten at least one shot.

  • 49.6% of CPS students 12 and up are fully vaccinated.
  • 12.6% of CPS students 5 to 11 have gotten their first shot.
  • 12 times more COVID cases happen in largely unvaccinated CPS elementary school students compared to the higher-vaccinated high school students.

Booster news: In anticipation of Omicron, the CDC strengthened its guidance this week on adult boosters, now recommending people "should" get them.

  • CDPH tells Axios that 23.3% of Chicagoans over 18 and 32.6% over 50 have gotten boosted.
  • This may seem astonishing since the CDC only opened boosters to all adults under 65 two weeks ago, but we know that lots of Chicagoans didn't wait that long.
  • Chicago seniors over 65 now have a booster rate of 45.5%, about 10 points higher than a few weeks ago.
  • These numbers mirror national data almost exactly.

Fun fact: Chicagoans who are most likely to be vaccinated are Asian women between 50 and 59 years old — in other words, Monica.


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