Health & Safety

CDC recommends all people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or people thinking about becoming pregnant get vaccinated against COVID-19


The CDC recommends getting vaccinated if you are pregnant, or want to get pregnant in the future, to stay protected from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant people and do not cause fertility problems in men or women. Find vaccines near you at

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines and pregnant people, please visit the CDC’s website for their latest resources.

COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program

Cook County Government, Cook County Health and Cook County Department of Public Health are pleased to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to those living or working in Cook County. The distribution of COVID-19 vaccination will be done in a phased approach as vaccine supply is available and using guidance from local, state and national public health authorities. On this site, you can sign up for COVID-19 updates and information to schedule an appointment when administration expands to your phase. Providing all the information requested will ensure that you are notified properly as the program expands. Please visit frequently to access the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and the vaccine distribution program.

Sign up to receive:

  • Updates on the Vaccine and the Community Vaccination Program
  • Notification for when vaccine administration is open to your phase
  • Information on scheduling a vaccine appointment through Cook County Health
  • Information on vaccine distribution locations throughout Cook County

Click here for more information.

Illinois Vaccine Lottery Offering $10 Million In Prizes

The "All In for the Win" Illinois vaccine lottery is giving out $10 million in prizes to Illinois residents who have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine in Illinois, other than a federal facility. 

  • Vaccinated adults (aged 18 and older) are entered into a $7 million cash prize pool
  • Vaccinated youth (aged 12–17) are entered into a $3 million scholarship pool

All eligible residents will be automatically entered. No additional sign-ups, forms, or waiting in line are required!  

To learn more, visit the State of Illinois All In For The Win website

NALEO Educational Fund Launches the Juntos Podemos Campaign

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund announced the Juntos Podemos (Together We Can) campaign to empower Latinos to stop the spread of COVID-19, increase vaccine uptake, and combat misinformation.

Learn more about this effort:

Help spot and report misinformation via the Junkipedia reporting tool.

City of Chicago Offers In-Home Vaccinations

The City of Chicago is working to integrate mobile home health care vaccination services to reach home-bound individuals who are unable to go to the City’s COVID-19 vaccination sites to get the vaccine. This program is specifically for Chicago residents who are unable to leave home for medical reasons. Individuals living outside the City of Chicago are not eligible for this program. 

Click here to view the eligibility requirements and to access the form that is to be completed so the City can coordinate in-home vaccinations for eligible residents.

CDC Resources on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Illinois Launches $10 Million Public Awareness Campaign to Encourage Vaccinations in the Hardest-Hit Communities  

As more Illinoisans become eligible for the vaccine and the supply from the federal government continues to grow, Governor JB Pritzker launched a new public awareness campaign directed especially to residents in the hardest-hit communities who are reluctant to take the vaccine. The public awareness campaign features Illinoisans who have been personally impacted by COVID-19 and are sharing their stories and belief in the vaccine. As a part of the administration’s data-driven and equity-centric pandemic response, the campaign follows the CDC’s Vaccinate with Confidence Strategy of aiming to reach “the moveable middle” — residents who want to protect their health but are hesitant about getting vaccines.

Watch the first ads here:  

Click here for the full press release. Additional resources will continue to be updated on  

Newly Updated, FREE Application for Teachers, Parents, and Caregivers: CDC’s Milestone Tracker

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers know the importance of tracking children’s developmental milestones; now there’s a new version of the FREE app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help make tracking development easy, fun, and a great way to engage parents and caregivers. CDC’s Milestone Tracker app helps providers, teachers, parents, and caregivers better understand each child’s skills and abilities, track and celebrate developmental milestones, and share developmental progress from ages two months through five years.

The app offers:

  • Parent-friendly, interactive developmental milestone checklists adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics;
  • The ability to complete a checklist using corrected age for children born prematurely;
  • Photos and videos to help parents recognize milestones;
  • Tips and activities for supporting early development and sharing concerns;
  • The option to complete a checklist in English or Spanish;
  • Appointment and developmental screening reminders; and
  • The ability to see a summary of a child’s developmental progress in English or Spanish.

This app helps parents and caregivers understand, support, and celebrate their child’s developmental milestones and know when to act early if they have concerns. For more information visit

New IDHS Crisis Counseling Program to Support Communities Hardest Hit by COVID-19  

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is launching Illinois-Strong, a pilot program to provide community-based crisis counseling to individuals in Cook, Winnebago and St. Clair Counties who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The program focuses on helping disaster survivors understand their reactions and connect with other individuals and agencies that may assist them in improving their situations.

Staff members who provide individual crisis counseling are active listeners who offer reassurance, practical assistance, and emotional support, while teaching behavioral techniques for coping with stress.

Illinois-Strong will offer disaster-related relief services to individuals identified through individual and group interactions. For additional information on this program, visit

I/ECMHC Website Launch

The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) is thrilled to announce the launch of the Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (I/ECMHC) webpage on their website! This webpage will serve as a landing page where timely updates on I/ECMHC cross-systems work in Illinois will be posted as they become available.

Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health has been part of the Illinois infrastructure since the early 2000s, and it continues to play an integral role in our early childhood systems. Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants enhance the early childhood workforce’s response to the evolving developmental needs of children by partnering with early childhood programs (home visiting, as well as center-based, home-based, and school-based child care) to build capacity in responsive learning. 

This webpage dedicated to the work of I/ECMHC includes: 

  • Brief History of I/ECMHC
  • What is Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation?
  • Research and Ongoing Activities
  • Benefits of Consultation
  • Key I/ECMHC Resources

Please visit the webpage here

Pilot Evaluation of the Illinois Model of I/ECMHC is Live

Last month, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago released its study on the Illinois Model of Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation. Under the leadership of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership, this model was piloted in three early childhood systems (child care, school-based preschool, and home visiting) in four communities in Illinois. Findings included: the model was implemented with fidelity in all three programs, providers improved their skills, and there were positive classroom and home visiting effects. 

In the mental health consultation process, trained health professionals help early childhood service providers build their capacity to foster the emotional well-being of children and families. In this study, researchers found this intervention demonstrated positive effects on staff's “reflective capacity”. Reflective capacity is the ability to reflect on what the provider is observing in children and families and to see conditions from the family’s perspective, including consideration of the families’ experiences and history, the ability to interpret one’s own and others’ mental states, and an understanding of the provider’s own reaction to specific children or families.

In this study, positive effects were found in both classroom and home visiting environments. Parents who participated reported higher satisfaction with their role as parents than those in the comparison group, and providers participating in the intervention reported less stress. 

Click here to access the landing page for the Pilot Evaluation. At the bottom of the page, you will see buttons linking to the “Illinois Model Report” and the “Illinois Model Brief”.

We welcome your outreach to your colleagues to spread the word about this bold and innovative work in Illinois!

Federal Vaccine Allocations Going Directly to Some Pharmacies

The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination locations across Illinois continues to increase.  More than 340 new retail pharmacy locations have been added to the list of COVID-19 vaccination sites open to the public. There are now more than 850 vaccination locations in Illinois open to the public. The new sites include 339 Walgreens stores throughout Illinois, which will be receiving vaccine out of a federal allocation and not from the state’s allotment. Additionally, four CVS locations are being added.

Read the press release from the Illinois Department of Public Health here.

For more information visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Resources  

All are encouraged to visit the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) COVID-19 Vaccine webpage for information on Illinois' vaccination plan, access to a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions document (last updated 1/6/21 and available in Spanish, Polish, French, Chinese, and English), and to view the Vaccine Distribution Plan for Phases 1A and 1B

Governor Pritzker Announces Updates to COVID-19 Mitigations & Vaccine Administration Plan

Following a decrease in COVID-19 test positivity rates and hospitalizations throughout Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker announced regions across the state that are now eligible to move out of Tier 3 mitigations, the strictest tier of Illinois' resurgence mitigation plan. Tier 3 mitigations were implemented shortly before Thanksgiving in response to a surge of COVID-19 statewide and across the Midwest. After weeks of careful consultation with public health experts, the Governor announced that regions could resume moving out of the tiered resurgence mitigations (Tier 3, Tier 2, and Tier 1) and back into Phase 4 on a data-driven basis. 


The Governor also announced adjustments to the resurgence mitigations in light of ramped up vaccination efforts across the state, with Tier 1 of the resurgence mitigation plan now allowing restaurants and bars in a qualifying region to resume indoor dining with limited capacity. Youth and recreational sports may also resume activity in all regions following the Illinois Department of Public Health's (IDPH) All Sports Policy in all regions moving out of Tier 3.


In addition, the Governor announced Phase 1A of the Illinois COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Plan is on track to be substantially completed this week, with the entire state on track to move into to Phase 1B on Monday, January 25. In accordance with local progress, IDPH has permitted local health departments who have already substantially completed their 1A populations to move forward with 1B in order to leave no vaccine on the shelves.


  • Click here for the official press release.
  • Click here for the Illinois Resurgence Mitigation Plan, updated on 1/15/21.

New Resource Guide for Developing Integrated Strategies to Support the Social and Emotional Wellness of Children

The COVID-19 pandemic has swiftly and substantially affected the social and emotional health of children, especially those experiencing multiple hardships. As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the United States, many children are experiencing widespread disruptions in their daily life. Young children are reacting to stress as their parents' and caregivers' routines change. Children may have strong feelings of fear, worry, sadness, and anger about the pandemic and related issues that affect behavior at home and in child care.

In December 2020, to address these issues, the Office of Child Care (OCC) announced its new initiative to further integrate social and emotional support strategies in child care’s mixed-delivery system. Through this work, OCC will support expanding access to research-based social and emotional and trauma-responsive practices in child care across the country. The first activity of this initiative is the publication of a Resource Guide for Developing Integrated Strategies To Support the Social and Emotional Wellness of Children.

The Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Justice Warn: Avoid COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

Video: 10 Ways to Support Children’s Emotional Well-Being During COVID-19

In this short YouTube video, Child Trend's mental health expert, Jessica Dym Bartlett, discusses 10 ways for parents and caregivers to support children’s emotional well-being during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This video is based on the Child Trends resource released this past spring: Resources for Supporting Children's Emotional Well-Being during the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Taking Care of Ourselves: Stress & Relaxation

The Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center's Taking Care of Ourselves: Stress & Relaxation webpage features resources, workshops, posters bookmarks, and exercises on stress management and self-care to support family well-being. The best way to support and care for others is to first care for ourselves, so check out these resources!

Important Immunization Information

Immunizations, also known as vaccines, are one of our greatest defenses against many serious illnesses. However, as parents around the country and across Illinois canceled well-child checkups to avoid coronavirus exposure, public health and Medicaid health plans experts feared that inadvertently the seeds of another health crisis were being sown. 

According to the CDC, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been as much as a 50% decline in routine vaccinations for children aged 24 months or under. The alarming decline in routine childhood vaccinations could result in vaccine-preventable outbreaks. For example, if measles vaccination coverage of 90%–95% (the level needed to establish herd immunity) is not achieved, measles outbreaks can occur. 

Illinois State Law

Illinois State law requires certain immunizations for children and adults enrolled in child care, school, or college. To learn more, see the right-hand column of the Fall 2020 School Immunization Requirements.

 Certificate of Religious Exemption Form

 Certificate of Child Health Examination

 Certificate of Child Health Examination (En Español)

 Certificate of Child Health Exam Memo

Laws & Rules

Public Act 099-0249 - Religious Exemption Amendment to School Code

K-12 Immunization Requirements

College Immunization Requirements

Mercury-Free Vaccine Act

Mercury-Free Vaccine Act Exemption Declaration (2019)

Healthcare Employee Vaccination Code

Illinois Guidelines for Needle Disposal

VFC Program Manual for Illinois VFC Providers

IAMHP Immunization and Well-Child Webinar Series

The Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans (IAMHP) put together a complimentary 3-part webinar series tackling issues and barriers to immunization that IAMHP and its member health plans were seeing. Click here to view the recorded series. 

Highlights of the Lessons Learned:

  • Tracking efforts, data, and outreach to providers and members are vital.
  • Contact families to schedule missed vaccinations. Use member electronic health records and immunization information to identify children who have missed recommended vaccinations and work with families to schedule in-person appointments. 
  • Communicate your infection control practices with parents. Fear of crowded waiting rooms is a real concern for most, so make sure members know there are strict procedures and processes in place to ensure their safety. 
  • Dedicate specific clinics, buildings, or rooms for sick and wellness visits. Separate sick and well members into different locations or areas of the clinic. For providers with limited space, consider collaborating with community organizations to identify separate locations.
  • Create mobile vaccination sites to limit in-person contact. Similar to many COVID-19 testing sites, allow members to check-in by phone but receive the vaccine in their vehicle.

Social-Emotional Toolkits for Early Childhood Providers & Leaders

GOECD, in partnership with the Illinois Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, developed Social-Emotional Toolkits early childhood providers and leaders can use to manage stressors and promote wellness during these challenging times. We shared these resources earlier in the pandemic but wanted to send them out again to support those caring for our earliest learners.

Additionally, as part of the COVID-19 Safety Reminder Campaign for child care providers, staff, and parents, click below for a one page interactive infographic highlighting the importance of self-care.

Managing COVID-19 Stress

Hacer frente al estrés provocado por la COVID-19

Parent Checklist: Child Care Safety During COVID-19

Illinois' early childhood advocates, including Illinois Action for Children are here to help you determine what it will look like—and if it will be safe—when your child returns to child care.

With that in mind, we and our advocacy partners have created this checklist that includes some of the most important things to look for when you are considering for child care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We encourage you to review your child care provider’s re-opening plan to make sure you understand and are comfortable with the health and safety precautions that are in place.

New Yale Study - COVID-19 Cases in Child Care

On 10/14/20, researchers from Yale University released the findings of a survey of over 57,000 child care providers regarding community transmission of COVID-19 within the child care system. The survey is one of the largest epidemiological studies on a workforce ever conducted. The Yale study can be found on the American Academy of Pediatrics website. The full study and an Executive Summary can be found on the Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) website.  

Key findings: The study found that exposure to child care was not associated with an elevated risk of spreading COVID-19 to providers, as long as programs continue to follow core health and safety practices. The study also identifies that community spread matters, and child care programs will need to be responsive to localized transmission of COVID-19, which may result in ongoing closures or other challenges. The study did not investigate the effects of COVID-19 on children in child care. It focused solely on adults working in child care settings.

For All Illinoisans

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recent urgent warning to consumers and health care providers about hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. All are being advised to check the FDA webpage (which now lists 75 products to avoid) on a regular basis to stay fully informed regarding this important health issue.

Beat the Heat in Chicago! 

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, along with officials from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS), Chicago Park District, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and other City departments and sister agencies have made significant advancements to ensure that more than 200 citywide cooling resources are available in the City's response plan to extreme-heat weather conditions.

Keep Your Family and Your Home Safe During COVID-19

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation that is being closely monitored by numerous federal and local agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). Each of these agencies provide valuable resources for the most up-to-date information including:

COVID-19 Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to recommend that you stay home as much as possible, avoid unnecessary interactions with people who do not live in your household, practice social distancing (keep 6 feet away from others when you are outside the home), wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face. These are the most important steps to stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

As an additional measure, in line with CDC guidance, CDPH recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures may be difficult to maintain (for example, grocery stores and pharmacies). The covering can be a scarf, a bandana, or one you make at home. Please save medical masks, including N95s and surgical masks, for our healthcare workers and first responders who truly need them.

Face coverings protect others in case you have contracted COVID-19 but don’t yet have symptoms. This guidance is in response to new studies that have shown that people can spread the virus to others before showing symptoms. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Illinois remains under a Stay at Home order and people should NOT feel they can go outside more because they are wearing a face covering. 

Get your questions on face coverings answered with these best practices from CDPH: Here

ASK DR ARWADY: Have questions about #coronavirus? Dr. Arwady from the Chicago Department of Public Health is answering is taking questions from the public via social media with “The Doc Is In: Ask Dr. Arwady” every day during a livestream at 11:00 a.m. #AskDrArwady

The daily social briefings will be hosted on all of the city’s social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter ( and

Food safety, nutrition, and wellness during COVID-19 - The Harvard School of Public Health has a resource that covers important information on grocery shopping, takeout meals and food delivery, meal planning, cooking, and eating, and exercise.

Find More Resources and Information for Yourself and Your Home

Special Caution!

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Are you at higher risk for serious illness?

West Side United's COVID-19 Resources ( provide links and information on education tools, food resources, health guidance, and small business needs

Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities grantee Communities Partnering 4 Peace ( is pivoting to educate communities about COVID-19, in addition to continuing its gun violence prevention outreach

The Ounce Online Training Portal

Visit the Achieve OnDemand online training portal and take advantage of our comprehensive offering of self-paced trainings and webinars made just for home visiting professionals.

Girl Playing Doctor w Teacher