3/16/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Vaccination Efforts Update

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to share some positive news. As you may have heard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidance regarding vaccinations. It indicates people who are fully vaccinated can visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing.

Likewise, people who are fully vaccinated can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing (e.g. fully vaccinated grandparents and parents can visit with their unvaccinated children and/or grandchildren living in another household if they are at low risk for severe COVID-19).

People are considered "fully vaccinated" two weeks after they get the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

The CDC said this new guidance is a "first step" to returning to everyday activities. There's accumulating evidence that, in addition to the vaccine being incredibly effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths, people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to become infected at all, and potentially less likely to spread the virus to others.

Across the state, Illinois has reached a milestone, administering more than 4 million doses of the available COVID-19 vaccines including 354,414 in long-term care facilities. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has received a total of 5,038,635 doses. When you have a moment, please watch this related, important video from Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Here at IDHS, we have:

  • Administered over 10,000 vaccines onsite since early January. We have successfully vaccinated nearly 5,000 staff and residents in our 14 state operated facilities, 350 other 1b IDHS staff, and over 800 members of the community. 75% of those vaccinated have already received their second doses.
  • Since early February, IDHS has deployed staff to meet the needs of facilities providing long-term care to individuals with disabilities.
    • IDHS evaluated the needs of 57 assisted living facilities and ICFDDs.
    • IDHS held first and second dose clinics for five ICF/DD or Assisted Living facilities, vaccinating 189 people.
    • To accomplish this, we leveraged partnerships with independent pharmacies and four volunteer nurses from the Division of Developmental Disabilities.

We also continue to see more people join our text campaign. At IDHS, we continue to work in close partnership with IDPH on vaccine distribution. Together we are making extraordinary progress. Thank you for all that you have done to reduce the harms of COVID-19 and advance vaccination efforts in Illinois. I know we are all looking forward to even brighter days ahead.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS