It’s been three years since the first Chicago COVID-19 case was confirmed. It was the second confirmed case in the entire country at the time.
Since then, more than four million people in Illinois have been diagnosed with coronavirus; it has killed more than 36,000 people in the state.
Dr. Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that while the state is in a much better place now, COVID-19 still took the lives of 200 Illinois residents in December. Most of those were preventable deaths, he said.
The Food and Drug Administration is looking into simplifying its vaccine strategy by potentially offering an annual COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think it’s going to make it easier to get more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Susan Bleasdale, chief quality officer for UI Health. “We want to very quickly be able to adapt and give vaccine like we give vaccine for the flu.”
According to city data, about 40% of Chicagoans have received a booster or additional dose. That’s a dip from the 70% who completed their full vaccine primary series.
Bleasdale said we’re not out of the pandemic yet. As we transition to living with COVID-19, she added, it’s important to balance resources and pay attention to other public health and health care issues that may have fallen to the wayside in the past three years. This includes making sure you’re up to date on vaccinations for other illnesses and getting routine evaluations for diseases like cancer.
“A lot of people postponed care,” Bleasdale said. “We need to make sure we’re getting those people back into care, evaluation, preventive medicine.”