COVID Updates from Cook County

3 months 1 week ago #1 by Justin Kerr
Our friends at the Cook County Health System asked us to share this latest information on COVID-19 status and programs in Chicago and the Cook County area:

The McKinley Park News encourages everyone in the neighborhood to stay safe, get vaccinated, and trust the scientifically based programs, treatments and results from qualified sources like the Cook County Health System.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Booster Shot Information
Cook County Health will offer COVID-19 Pfizer booster shots to eligible individuals as identified by the FDA and CDC:
  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings
  • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
  • People ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions may get the booster shot "based on their individual benefits and risks"
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational risk
At this time, Pfizer boosters are only being offered to individuals who are six months from their second dose. Previously, the FDA and CDC approved third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the severely immunocompromised. Patients should bring their vaccine card when they come for their booster.

Call your doctor if you have any questions.

Cook County Health community health centers will continue to offer first and second doses.

All doses will be administered based on walk-in availability. People can still make appointments at or by calling 833-308-1988.

Visit for hours and locations.

Understanding the COVID-19 Variants
Dr. Katayoun Rezai is an infectious disease physician at Cook County Health. With the Delta and Mu variants making news, she breaks down what this means.

What is a variant and how does it form?
Viruses constantly change through mutations, which cause new variants. By changing and mutating, the virus can better survive and cause more infections.

The uncontrolled spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, means the virus is mutating quickly. That is why new variants are seen in countries with the highest infection rates and large numbers of unvaccinated people.  
Why should we be concerned about variants?
Some of the variants are classified as variants of interest or concern based on how easily they spread, how severe their symptoms might be, and how they are treated. The variants that are currently a concern in the U.S. include:
  • Alpha-B.1.1.7 – first identified in the United Kingdom, the alpha variant is about 50% more contagious than the original strain. It is susceptible to currently approved vaccines and monoclonal antibodies still work against this variant.
  • Beta-B.1.351 – first identified in South Africa, like Alpha variant it is about 50% more contagious. It is better at evading our immune system and certain monoclonal antibody treatments are less effective. Currently approved vaccines do work against this vaccine. There are few documented cases of the beta variant in the US.
  • Gamma-P.1 – first identified in Japan/Brazil, certain monoclonal antibody treatments are less effective. Currently approved vaccines do work against this vaccine.  
  • Delta-B.1.617.2 – first identified in India and currently the predominant strain in the US. It is more than twice as contagious as the original variant. Studies are underway to assess the efficacy of currently approved vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments. Some studies indicate that the delta variant can cause more severe illness than previous variants in unvaccinated people. 
  • Mu (B1.621) – first identified in Colombia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not currently list mu as a variant of interest or concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) added Mu to its list of variants of interest due to outbreaks in Europe and South America as it might escape the immune system and current vaccines might not be as effective. Currently, 0.2% of variants in the US are Mu variants.

What is important to know about variants?
What is important to remember is that most of the hospitalizations and deaths caused by COVID-19 are in unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern as the highest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.

Fully vaccinated people are being infected far less often than unvaccinated people. While the vaccines work very well they are not 100% effective, so we do expect some level of infection in vaccinated individuals. An infection in a vaccinated person is most often more mild thanks to protection from the vaccine.

Wearing masks to reduce the spread and getting vaccinated remain the best ways to protect ourselves from any of the variants for now. As the number of vaccinated people increases, there is less opportunity for the virus to spread.
Cook County Health Vaccination Locations
As the pandemic continues and new variants of COVID-19 emerge, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated protects not just ourselves, but those around us, including people who cannot be vaccinated.

The vaccines are safe and effective in preventing infection, serious disease, hospitalization and death. The Pfizer vaccine recently received full approval from the FDA, reinforcing that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe to use.

All Cook County Health locations are accepting walk-ins for getting the vaccine. To learn about hours and find a location nearest you, visit or the Cook County Department of Public Health's website .
Cook County Launches Next Phase of Vaccine Public Education Campaign
When the COVID-19 vaccines became available earlier this year, Cook County launched an awareness and education campaign, My Shot Cook County, to encourage all residents to get vaccinated. Efforts included a multi-language media campaign to expand outreach, education and overall messaging to address vaccine hesitancy. In all, the My Shot Cook County campaign has garnered 70+ million impressions.

The campaign was initially geared toward local adults, age 18-65+ with a focus on minority communities and those defined as priorities by the CCDPH Social Vulnerability Index and CountyCare Medicaid historic zip codes. The first creative themes featured real Cook County residents sharing their reason for getting vaccinated in ads on digital platforms, out-of-home outlets (billboards, bus shelters etc.) and on the campaign website,

A new set of ads is currently in market centering around the notion that “Life Is Better Vaxxed” and targets the 18–34-year-old demographic, which continues to have the lowest rates of vaccine uptake. These ads are particularly focused in priority communities in the west and south suburbs and include radio, out-of-home, and digital elements. Click here to read a story from the Associated Press highlighting the My Shot Cook County campaign’s innovative use of social media influencers, among other tactics.

We are excited to say that, thanks to additional federal funding, we have been able to develop and launch our first broadcast television and streaming advertisements to encourage people to get vaccinated. The theme is “Trust Us”, highlighting the trust patients have in their Cook County Health providers. The compelling and multilingual commercials, which focus on CCH physicians, put trusted doctors front-and-center to ask the public to get vaccinated.

Look for the commercials across tv channels and streaming platforms including ABC, NBC, CBS, WGN, FOX, ME-TV, Univision, Telemundo, Hulu, Canela TV, Crossings TV, Polvision and YouTube. We’ve launched two versions of the ad, one in English, which you can see here, and another multilingual ad, which you can view here.

Please feel free to share these spots or any other My Shot Cook County creative available online with your networks to encourage others to get vaccinated. The vaccines provide us our best shot at moving through this pandemic.
"Destination: Vaccination" Provides Free Rides to Vaccination Sites
The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) launched its “Destination: Vaccination” program, which will provide free rides to many vaccination locations throughout suburban Cook County.

The program will enable individuals with limited mobility or transportation issues to easily get vaccinated, removing a key barrier for many residents.

“Destination: Vaccination” is a partnership between CCDPH, Kaizen Health, and several Community Based Organizations (CBOs), to provide transportation for residents who need assistance getting to nearby vaccination clinics.

Residents who need a ride to a vaccination location can call 833-308-1988 to schedule a ride. The program is open to suburban Cook County residents, as well as Chicago residents who wish to utilize a Cook County Health location within the city.

The program has vehicles to accommodate most residents, including those in wheelchairs or those who require child seats. Though advanced scheduling is preferred, residents can call for a ride and one should arrive between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on time of day and fleet availability. This service is provided at no cost.

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