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Chicago Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Eligibility for Certain Adults


Chicago’s bar and restaurant workers might be eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Although, they might not know, explained Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady during a press conference. She pressed adults, who were fully vaccinated with either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna at least six months ago, to get a booster if they work or live in places the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rates as higher-risk scenarios.

Dr. Arwady also urges those planning to attend a “high-risk event” — any indoor space with little or no room for social distancing — to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster. In addition, she reminds adults with underlying conditions they should schedule an appointment for a booster as soon as possible.

While the federal guidelines are much stricter, it appears the Chicago Health Commissioner might be mirroring California’s recent rule changes defining who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster. The California Department of Public Health directed health care providers to allow any fully vaccinated adults to receive a booster injection. In addition, the agency’s director, Tomás J. Aragón’s letter requires providers to proactively outreach patients:

Do not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster. Allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure.

Courtesy of Jimmy Baikovicius (Flickr CC0)

Many states facing rising COVID-19 cases are considering changing eligibility.  In addition to California, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham unilaterally opened booster eligibility to all adults in their states last week, according to Axios.

On Monday, officials at The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encouraged all adults who want the COVID-19 booster should be allowed to have them and asked medical providers to allow their fully vaccinated adult patients to have the vaccination.

Based on Dr. Arwady’s comments, it appears Chicago and Illinois might be considering revising eligibility requirements, especially since the infection rates are on the increase in the city. The daily average is 465, reflecting an 11% increase from last week, as of November 12, at 5:30 p.m. CST.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aims to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 booster for all fully vaccinated adults as early as Thursday, according to an announcement made on November 17. Additionally, the CDC’s independent committee of vaccine experts is set to discuss data on the booster dose’s safety and effectiveness. If both the CDC and FDA believe this is a good move, COVID-19 booster shot eligibility would be available for everyone 18 and older in a little over a week.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


Chicago Eater: Chicago Restaurant Workers May Be Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster; by Naomi Waxman and Aimee Levitt
Axios Chicago: 1 big thing: Booster eligibility confusion; by Justin Kaufmann and Monica Eng
NPR: All adults can get a COVID vaccine booster in California, not just those CDC listed; by Jonathan Franklin
Chicago.gov: COVID Dashboard
The New York Times: F.D.A. Plans to Authorize Pfizer Boosters for All Adults This Week; by Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of TNS Photography – Used With Permission
Inset Image Courtesy of Jimmy Baikovicius’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


Cathrine Osborne, DM

Infectious Disease Physician

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