Chicago Department of Public Health Weekly Media Brief, 2/29/2024

February 29, 2024

CDPH Public Information

COVID-19 Boosters Recommended for Adults 65+

This week, federal health officials issued new recommendations that people ages 65 and older should receive one additional dose of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendations are based on evidence that older adults are at greatest risk of serious illness or hospitalization if they get COVID-19 and therefore additional protection is warranted. The additional dose is to be administered at least 4 months following the initial dose of the 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine.

Initially released in Fall 2023, this version of the COVID-19 vaccine was updated to protect against versions of the virus that are circulating now, and it is still widely available at pharmacies and medical clinics across the city.

“This decision is a great reminder of the importance of staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, especially for Chicagoans who are most vulnerable to severe outcomes from infection because they are older or have underlying medical conditions,” said CDPH Health Commissioner Olusimbo Ige, MD, MPH. “The evidence is clear that older adults face greater risks from COVID, but vaccination and early treatment can help prevent hospitalization. I urge Chicagoans to follow this advice and continue to receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccines.”

To date, 32 percent of Chicagoans age 65 and older have received a single dose of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine.

Don't Die High - Fighting Meth in Chicago

Methamphetamine has had a unique and destructive impact on communities of gay, bisexual and same-gender-loving men, and its use has been rising, specifically among Black and Latino men. CDPH and the Chicago Methamphetamine Task Force have come together to sound the alarm and take action.

A powerful and highly addictive stimulant, meth can cause mental and physical health issues, including an increased risk of acquiring HIV. Meth users can go for days at a time without sleep, food, or self-care while on the drug. Adding to the danger meth poses, these days more of the supply is laced with fentanyl, a deadly opioid that has been turning up in other street drugs.

The community-led Task Force is hosting a Town Hall with CDPH at 6pm on Thursday, Feb. 29 at New Covenant Church, 754 E. 77th St. to discuss the issue, hear the stories from those whose lives have been impacted by meth use, and to open the dialogue to fine-tune a plan of action. The Task Force will also report out on data collected from a community-wide survey focused on substance use among Black gay, bisexual and same-gender-loving men in Chicago.

The town hall – which is free and open to the public - also will serve as a kickoff to CDPH and the Meth Task Force’s public awareness campaign, “Don’t Die High.” This awareness effort, prioritizing Chicago’s gay, bisexual, and same gender-loving Black men, will include community outreach, social media, billboard and public transportation ads, a website – -- with information on meth, community resources, and helpline numbers.

Protect Yourself Against Measles

Last week, CDPH became aware of exposures in Chicago to the measles virus, due to a confirmed case in a contagious individual from Indiana. While there have been no further suspected cases of measles in Chicago, there have been multiple recent outbreaks of measles in the United States due to declining childhood vaccination rates nationwide. Measles is a serious respiratory infection that causes a rash and high fever and is capable of leading to pneumonia and other complications – it is highly contagious and can be dangerous to those who are unvaccinated, especially babies and young children. The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) is completely safe and extremely effective at preventing measles, remaining by far the best protection against measles for people of all ages.

Over 90% of Chicagoans are protected with the MMR vaccine, but it is never too late to get your vaccine if you haven't already. CDPH offers MMR vaccinations at no cost for uninsured adults and children eligible for the Vaccines For Children program at our various health clinics around Chicago. Adults who aren't sure if they're vaccinated against measles should contact their health care provider. For more information about measles and how you can protect yourself, visit the CDC website.

Dr. Ige Visits Washington, D.C.

CDPH Commissioner, Dr. Ige, spent time this week in Washington D.C. with the Big Cities Health Coalition. This coalition is comprised of leaders of local health departments across the country, and this meeting provided space for information sharing, collaboration, and meeting with other national public health leaders on ways to increase health equity in our cities. Topics discussed with these leaders included pandemic preparedness and response, health equity, public health policy and communications, respiratory virus season, data surveillance, and national health priorities for 2024.

Dr. Ige also spent time meeting with Illinois government representatives including Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Danny K. Davis to uplift the work of the health department and discuss ways to increase sustainable public health funding. To learn more about the Big Cities Health Coalition, visit