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Published on March 01, 2024
Illinois Adopts New CDC Guidelines Targeting Vulnerable Populations Amid Uptick in Respiratory IllnessesSource: Unsplash/Volodymyr Hryshchenko

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is in lockstep with the latest CDC guidelines, aiming to cut through the clutter of dealing with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, flu, and RSV, focusing on those most vulnerable to serious illness. The new recommendations take into account an increase in flu cases, bumping the state's respiratory virus level from Low to Moderate, although COVID-19 hospitalizations remain in the Low category, according to CDC data up to February 24, as reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In the wake of these updates, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended a second booster for those aged 65 plus, reaffirming the defense against COVID-19, especially since data presented showed a large majority of hospitalizations last fall being among those who passed on the updated vaccine, per the same source. "These new guidelines put the emphasis correctly on protecting those who are most vulnerable to serious illness and hospitalizations," IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra declared, underscoring the importance of continued vigilance as flu season could stretch to May and the window for an additional shot remains open for those at the highest risk.

Gone are the days of mandatory five-day isolation for COVID-19 positives, replaced by a symptom-improvement-based model, although, if you've had a fever, it's a 24-hour wait without medication before resuming activities, says the new CDC guidance. The IDPH echoes such sentiments, pushing for precautions post-recovery, such as mask-wearing and good hygiene practices, in a bid to curb further spread, especially among the over-65s and those with compromised immune systems.

Even with RSV winding down in Illinois, the new protocols stress continued immunization, while also promoting studies that illustrate the lowest hospital rates among those armed with both mRNA jabs and antiviral treatments like Paxlovid; particularly for the at-risk adults, the shots paired with antivirals serve as a robust shield against severe COVID-19, the IDPH points out. Public tracking of the respiratory virus situation can be done via the IDPH's Infectious Respiratory Disease Surveillance Dashboard, updated every Friday.

Let's not forget about freebies – the federal government's still dishing out four gratis at-home tests per household, and the CDC’s got high-risk folks covered with triple tests for Flu, RSV, and COVID-19, without reaching into their wallets, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. And if you're strapped for cash or your insurance is lacking, federal programs are ready to pitch in for vaccines and treatments.

For the elderly or disabled seeking resources, the federal helplines, such as The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) and the Eldercare Locator, are on hand to ease access to vaccinations and essential information, directing those in need to local clinics and offering assistance with transportation.