Chicago Department of Public Health Weekly Media Brief, 9/8/2023
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Where To Find COVID Vaccines This Fall
With COVID-19 continuing to circulate in Chicago and across the nation, the number one thing people can do to protect themselves is stay up to date on vaccination. That means getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available in mid- to late-September to better protect against currently circulating virus variants.
This year, where you go to get the updated vaccine may be a little different as a result of the end of the federal public health emergency and the commercialization of the vaccine. The good news is there will be an ample supply of vaccine for everyone, and it should be available to all at no cost regardless of insurance or immigration status.
For those without health insurance, there will be federally purchased vaccine at CDPH clinics, through the City’s At Home Vaccination program, as well as at CDPH’s annual family COVID/flu vaccination clinics at City Colleges of Chicago (schedule to be announced soon). In addition, dozens of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) across Chicago will have vaccine available at no cost for uninsured and underinsured Chicagoans. To find an FQHC with no cost vaccines near you, visit https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ (call ahead to make sure they have vaccine) or call the City’s Hotline at 312.746.4835.
Later this year, it is likely that those without insurance may also be able to go to a pharmacy to get vaccinated through a federal initiative called the Bridge Access Program.
For those with private health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare, the best option will be to go to a pharmacy or doctor’s office to get your updated COVID-19 vaccine. You can go to https://www.vaccines.gov/ (English) or https://www.vacunas.gov/ (Spanish) to find a vaccine near you. Be sure to bring your insurance card, as the provider will need to submit a claim to your insurer.
Have Your COVID Rapid Tests Expired?
With autumn just around the corner and a rise in respiratory infections including COVID-19, RSV, and flu potentially on the way, you may find yourself reaching for your home stockpile of rapid COVID tests the next time you feel ill. But are the COVID tests you brought home two years ago still good? Can you trust the results?
Before you open that COVID test that’s been in your medicine cabinet since the last time the White Sox played postseason baseball, you’d better check the expiration date. But also keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the expiration dates for certain brands of tests.
You can check a test by finding the lot number (typically found right by the expiration date) and cross-referencing it at this FDA website. Another factor to keep in mind though, in this summer of sometimes sweltering temperatures, is that extreme heat can also affect COVID tests. The FDA says at-home tests work best when you use them in an environment that’s between roughly 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Always make sure the control line — which typically appears next to the “C” — shows up when you use a rapid test; otherwise, the test may be damaged or faulty.
So, before you use that at-home test you’ve had stored away, make sure it’s still within the authorized expiration date, and that it hasn’t broken down or degraded over time. Either of those factors could give inaccurate or invalid test results.
National Suicide Prevention Month
As September marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, it’s crucial for Chicagoans to familiarize themselves with the available resources aimed at curbing this alarming issue.
Resources exist to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts. Residents can dial 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or they can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741. Suicide attempt survivors, medical providers, and researchers who study suicide recommend counseling to help find long-term strategies to ease emotional pain and distress. Here some key warning signs that someone is thinking about suicide:
- wanting to die
- great guilt or shame
- being a burden to others
- empty, hopeless, trapped, or without to live
- extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage
- unbearable emotional or physical pain
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, and in 2021, Illinois ranked 15th in the nation for suicides. It is preventable, and everyone can play a role. To find out more about the 988 suicide and crisis line click here.