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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that all 102 counties in the state remain at a low level for COVID-19 hospital admissions, according to the new rating system introduced after the declared state and national public health emergencies expired in May. Counties are considered to be at a low level of COVID-19 transmission when hospitalizations are below 10 per 100,000 population.

The CDC and IDPH will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends by measuring the presence of the virus in wastewater in addition to other existing surveillance methods. In Illinois, the data is posted by the Illinois Wastewater Surveillance System, which tracks the levels of COVID-19 and influenza in wastewater at 76 locations throughout the state.

“I am very happy and relieved to report that COVID-19 cases remain low as we continue the summer season,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said. “IDPH’s focus remains on closely monitoring COVID-19, along with other respiratory viruses such as flu and RSV-19, in anticipation of a fall and winter when infections will likely increase. The Department will continue to work closely with our partners to provide the most up to date guidance on vaccines and treatments that can decrease transmission and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”

While the 2022-2023 flu season that ended in late April did not experience a second wave, it nonetheless resulted in over 900 reported ICU admissions and 7 pediatric deaths this season. This is an important reminder of the need for annual influenza vaccines, which significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization. RSV activity currently remains low as well, but a significant peak occurred in October 2022 that stretched pediatric bed capacity across the State of Illinois.

New and updated immunizations and therapies have emerged to treat respiratory illness. IDPH supports ACIP’s (CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices) recommendations in June 2023 based on updated scientific evidence that “All eligible persons aged =6 months with egg allergy should receive influenza vaccine. Any influenza vaccine (egg based or non-egg based) that is otherwise appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status can be used.”

ACIP also recommended use of a single dose of RSV vaccine, recently approved by the FDA and ACIP in June 2023 for persons 60 years of age and older. The General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization provides that coadministration of RSV vaccines with other adult vaccines is acceptable. This includes giving RSV vaccines to adults simultaneously with seasonal influenza vaccines. The FDA Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) also voted unanimously in favor of nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody, for the prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) in all newborns and infants born during or entering their first RSV season. If also approved by the FDA in 2023, it may be available for the 2023-2024 RSV season.

In regards to COVID-19, FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met on June 15, 2023 to discuss the Fall Covid-19 vaccine and unanimously voted that the Fall Covid-19 vaccine should be active against the most dominant strain (currently the XBB 1.5 strain which evolved from the earlier Omicron variant). Subsequently FDA advised manufacturers to develop vaccines active against the XBB.1.5 strain and CDC’s ACIP Covid-19 work group will review the FDA authorizations to determine if annual boosters will subsequently be recommended by ACIP.

IDPH would like to remind Illinoisans about the resources available to access Covid-19 tests, vaccines or therapeutics as these products transition to the commercial market this fall. Free testing could still be accessed through Project Act and Article continues after sponsor message