During the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Health Workers are helping Illinoisans better understand the vaccines and where to find them. There may not be as many mass vaccination clinics as there were this time a year ago, but there are still ways to locate Novavax, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech doses for anyone at least six months old.
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has maintained the vaccines.gov search application since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its functionality has been updated to identify pharmacies and clinics nearby with vaccines available by the various types. Vaccines.gov allows users to locate Johnson & Johnson/Janseen vaccines, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not recommending their use.
Contact the local public health department
Local governments are still responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, a job made easier as vaccination rates increase. As such, public health departments have access to most all vaccine types or know of an outlet within their territory with shots on hand.
Connect with a Community Health Worker
Community Health Workers are problem solvers with unique perspectives into what community resources are available in the areas they serve. Hundreds of Community Health Workers trained to respond to longstanding community needs exacerbated by the pandemic are still available to connect their neighbors impacted by COVID-19 with those basic human needs. A directory of community health resources is available online at helpguidethrive.org.
Millions of Illinoisans have yet to get vaccinated
COVID-19 shots have been available for nearly two years, but more than 35 percent of Illinois’ population has not been fully vaccinated for the virus that has killed nearly 40,000 people within Illinois’ borders. COVID-19 has not been eradicated. The pandemic is not over. Vaccines have saved an untold millions of people from hospitalization and death, but, unfortunately, that is still happening, too. Some hesitancy to newer treatments is expected, but uncertainty over how vaccines work and what is in them left many Illinoisans hesitant to take them. Some new developments are helping ease some of the hesitancy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced “updated boosters” that provide more effective protection against omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 for anyone who had previously been vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer and BioNTech shots. There is also a COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax. Unlike the vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine does not contain whole virus cells. Instead, it uses parts of the virus to prepare a person’s immune system to better fight off infection. Instead of prevents- maybe creates uncertainty or something of that nature that is less defensive making