Flu season 2022: Chicago health officials urge residents to get flu shots, COVID boosters as cases in children flood hospitals

CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois reported 1,480 new COVID cases and 0 new deaths Wednesday.

The Illinois Dept. of Public Health says “daily deaths reported on weekends and at the beginning of the week may be low” and “those deaths will be captured in subsequent days.”

SEE ALSO | Is the US facing a potential ‘tripledemic’ of flu, RSV and COVID-19?

The Chicago area is seeing some of the lowest COVID community transmission levels since the start of the pandemic. Cook County and all surrounding counties are all in the green, low-transmission group. Kankakee and Boone counties are currently in the yellow, medium-transmission group.

There have been at least 3,832,738 total COVID cases in the state since the start of the pandemic and at least 35,308 related deaths.

As of Tuesday night, 1,101 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 125 patients were in the ICU, and 47 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The daily case rate per 100,000 population is at 16.2.

Chicago’s top doctor pleads with residents to get flu shot, COVID booster

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, only 14.6% of eligible Chicagoans have received the omicron-specific vaccine.

“We expect the winter of 2022-2023 to see another surge in COVID and probably another surge in COVID deaths,” Arwady said.

Dr. Arwady said if you 5 years old and older and have not had a COVID shot since Labor Day, you are due for one now. If not, Arwady fears another variant may emerge.

“We are especially concerned for Latinx and Black Chicagoans who have born the brunt of COVID pandemic and are the least protected,” Arwady said.

Only 14% of Latino residents and 17% of Black Chicagoans have received the new booster, compared to 57% of white residents.

WATCH: Here’s what to know about COVID and the flu this season

“African American Community, c’mon, we are better than 17%,” said Pastor Chris Harris at Bright Star Church.

As he rolled up his sleeve, Pastor Chris Harris called on faith leaders to use the pulpit this Sunday to urge their members to get vaccinated.

In the meantime, Dr. Arwady is calling on parents to get their kids the both vaccines, especially the flu shot.

“Parents are less likely to be getting their children vaccinated against flu this year,” Arwady said. “That is a really bad combination. Different from COVID, flu hits kids hard.”

Dr. Arwady said that between the flu, COVID, RSV and other illnesses, there are less than 10 pediatric ICU beds available in Chicago and the respiratory virus season hasn’t officially kicked in yet.

CDPH also announced it’s extending the flu and COVID booster clinics through December and urge people to take advantage of the free vaccines while they remain.

Nationwide, the flu season has started earlier this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu hospitalizations, at this point, are the highest in over a decade.

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