Coronavirus response | Native well being official: Unvaccinated children driving newest surge | Coronavirus

CHAMPAIGN – COVID-19 cases have recently escalated in Champaign County, in part due to the spread of infections among mostly unvaccinated school children and teenagers, a local health official said on Friday.

According to Awaid Vaid, assistant administrator for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, in the past two weeks 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases in adolescents aged 12 to 17 have occurred in unvaccinated people.

Since a vaccine has been available for this age group for some time, “it’s unacceptable,” said Vaid.

Because it was difficult to avoid close contact with infected children at home, cases picked up at school would spread to other family members, even some who are vaccinated, he said.

In early November, the number of active cases in Champaign County was 300.

There were 941 active cases as of Friday – a number fueled by 347 new positive tests in the past three days.

With vaccines now available for children ages 5 and up and Thanksgiving coming, Vaid said the health district has pushed ahead with vaccinations for children – who are in close contact with their more vulnerable grandparents and family members under the age of 5 who cannot yet be vaccinated.

The health district hopes to see more vaccination clinics in schools where children can be vaccinated without their parents having to take time off from work, he said.

With many families expected to celebrate Thanksgiving in small groups, Vaid said the longer vacation weekend outside of school could be a chance to slow the spread of the infection in schools.

However, it is advisable for vacationers to get tested for COVID-19 before and after the trip, he said.

On a nationwide basis, new cases were up 25 percent from last week, the Illinois Department of Health reported Friday.

Due to the current high transmission rate in Illinois, booster syringes are now available to everyone 18 and older, the health district said.

The requirements for those wanting a booster vaccination are at least six months after a second vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or at least two months after the single vaccination from Johnson & Johnson.

The health district has added five more days to its walk-in refresher clinics at the I Hotel and Conference Center at 1900 S. First St., C, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and November 30, December 1, and Dec 2.

Those coming for booster shots are asked to enter through the conference center on the east side of the complex, not the hotel.

Carle Health continues to provide vaccinations for children and booster shots by appointment only at its facility at Kohl’s Plaza in 1901 N. Market St., C.

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