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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: COVID Vaccine for 12-15 Nearing Approval, Where to Sign Kids Up

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The FDA has authorized emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. What can parents expect to happen next? And how can they sign their kids up?

Meanwhile, Chicago's top doctor said she could see an additional booster shot of the vaccine being required by fall.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today.

Osco Pharmacy to Begin Administering COVID Vaccine to Children 12 and Older

Osco Drug Pharmacy announced they will administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 and older after receiving approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday.

The pharmacy noted that those over the age of 18 can also receive the free Moderna and Johnson & Johonson vaccines either by a scheduled or walk-in appointment at Oscos.

To schedule a vaccine at Osco, click here.

Read more here.

COVID Testing Could Increase in Middle, High Schools Due to Major State Funding

Illinois middle and high schools could see an increase in COVID-19 testing following a multimillion dollar investment from the state, officials announced Wednesday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced a $235 million investment to expand covidSHIELD testing, which is a saliva-based test that quickly detects the virus in both symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals, at statewide middle and high schools.

The quick testing strategy is meant to identify who has COVID early, so that more students can quarantine and prevent further spread, according to state officials.

Rather than a nasal swap, the covidSHIELD test, which was developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collects saliva and provides results typically within 12 to 24 hours. Officials said specimens will only be collected with parental consent at participating schools.

Read more here.

Northwestern to Require Students Vaccinated Against COVID Before Next School Year

Northwestern University became the latest Chicago area school to require students to receive the coronavirus vaccine before the start of the fall 2021 semester, the school announced Wednesday.

If a student is not fully vaccinated, meaning two weeks since the last dose, by the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the individual may not be able to register for fall classes, according to a statement from the school.

At this time, faculty and staff are not required to receive the COVID vaccine, the school said. In a letter to students, Northwestern said they predict more than 75% of the student body are either fully vaccinated or in the course of receiving the vaccine.

More information will be available in June on exemptions from vaccinations and how to provide vaccine status to the school, Northwestern said.

Read more here.

New Illinois Bill Would Let Bars Give a Free Drink to Customers Who've Gotten the COVID Vaccine

A new bill in the Illinois House would let bars and restaurants give out a free alcoholic drink to customers who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from suburban Riverside, introduced House Bill 4078 on Tuesday.

A new bill in the Illinois House would let bars and restaurants give out a free alcoholic drink to customers who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from suburban Riverside, introduced House Bill 4078 on Tuesday.

The "Shot and a Beer" bill would allow establishments with liquor licenses to give customers a free drink if they show proof that they've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, as part of a promotional campaign incentivizing getting vaccinated.

The measure, if passed and signed into law, would only be valid for six months after its effective date. The bill was introduced Tuesday and sent to the House Rules Committee, awaiting further action.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,795 New COVID Cases, 26 Deaths, 73K Vaccinations

Illinois health officials reported 1,795 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 26 additional deaths in the last day, along with more than 73,000 vaccinations administered.

The newly reported coronavirus cases bring the state total to 1,359,748 cases since the pandemic began and lift the total death toll to 22,285, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The statewide positivity rate dropped to 2.7% of all tests returning positive results, and the positivity rate for individuals tested in the last seven days remained at 3.3%, according to IDPH data.

The state reported 73,345 vaccinations administered in the last day, according to the latest data. bringing the seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered to 80,591 doses.

Read more here.

Where You Can Get COVID Vaccines for Kids Ages 12-15 in the Chicago Area

Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15 Monday, parents are searching for when and where they can get doses for their children in the Chicago area.

A number of health departments across the Chicago area have announced plans to begin vaccines as early as Thursday, pending a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's a list of where to get vaccines for kids in the Chicago area.

COVID Booster Vaccine Could Be Needed By Fall, Chicago's Top Doc Details

As word circulates around whether or not an a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot will be necessary in coming months, Chicago's top doctor said she could see an additional dose being required by fall.

The need for a booster shot likely won't depend on how effective any of the three COVID vaccines are, according to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. Rather, another shot could aid in protecting against any possible new variants that could arise during the summer.

"Where we would need a booster is not because one of the three vaccines we have lost how effective it is," Arwady said. "Most likely it's more that we could see a new variant emerge that the vaccines are no longer protective against, and that could happen just in the next few months."

She noted that the vaccine companies would need to gain additional research before bringing a potential booster to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which she says could take two to three months.

Read more here.

When Might Children Under 12 Be Eligible to Receive COVID Vaccine?

According to experts, those under 12 likely won't be able to receive the COVID vaccine until later this year or early next year.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have begun U.S. studies in children ages 6 months to 11 years. Those studies explore whether babies, preschoolers and elementary-age kids will need different doses than teens and adults. Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president who’s also a pediatrician, told the Associated Press that Pfizer expects its first results in the fall.

"Both Pfizer and Moderna currently have studies that are ongoing for vaccine down to six months so maybe into next year we may actually see vaccine for our people less than 12 years of age, so stay tuned for that and keep looking out," Dr. Candice Robinson, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said.

Chicago's top doctor said results could come as early as September.

Read more here.

Should You Eat Before Receiving the COVID Vaccine? Chicago's Top Doc Answers

In preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine, should you eat a full meal beforehand? Chicago's top doctor gave her recommendation Tuesday.

During a Facebook Live event, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said people should eat before receiving any shot or having blood drawn.

"I always recommend that if someone's going to get their blood drawn or get a shot that you should just eat a good breakfast or a good lunch," Arwady said. "Make sure you've had plenty of water that day. That's really all you need to do related to preparation before the COVID vaccine shot. You don't need to take any medication in advance."

She added that individuals with food should meet with their physicians to ensure nothing interacting with the vaccine would cause a reaction.

Read more here.

Does the COVID Vaccine Contain the Virus? No and It Won't Make You ‘Shed' Spike Proteins Either

Does the COVID vaccine contain the virus? No, and it won't make you "shed" spike proteins or transmit COVID-19 to others in any way, experts say, explaining how the vaccines work in an effort to swat down rumors and misinformation.

Misinformation about the coronavirus has been rampant on social media since the pandemic began, and vaccinations are no different. One rumor that's popped up is that unvaccinated people can get sick simply from contact with those who have gotten the COVID vaccine as they "shed" viral particles.

Public health experts and medical professionals across the board say that this type of "shedding" is absolutely not happening with the COVID vaccines - and that understanding how the vaccines work is key to knowing the truth.

Read more here.

What Are the Potential Side Effects for the COVID Vaccine in Kids Ages 12-15?

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizing emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected to recommend the shots for young teens, vaccinations could begin later this week.

Much like vaccinations for young adults, Pfizer's COVID vaccine could bring some mild, but not concerning, side effects for kids as well, health officials say.

The younger teens received the same vaccine dosage as adults and reported the same side effects, mostly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills or aches that signal a revved-up immune system, particularly after the second dose.

Read more here.

COVID Vaccine for 12-15: Cook County to Open Vaccination Sites to Kids This Week

Cook County plans to open its mass vaccination sites to children ages 12 to 15 later this week after the Pfizer vaccine receives its anticipated approval from federal regulators to expand to kids in that age group.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized emergency use of Pfizer's vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. The FDA's decision will now be followed by a meeting of the CDC's federal vaccine advisory committee, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (known as ACIP), on Wednesday to discuss whether to recommend the shot for that age group.

Cook County Health said Tuesday that the ACIP is "expected to issue a similar approval after its meeting."

"Cook County Health is looking forward to welcoming newly-eligible adolescents age 12-15 for vaccination later this week," the county said.

The county noted that parents will be able to make appointments for their children ages 12 to 15 online once CDC approval has been granted, adding that the county's mass vaccination sites will continue to accept walk-ins.

Read more here.

Kids Ages 12-15 Can Get Vaccinated at Chicago Sites Starting Thursday, City Says

Chicago's COVID-19 vaccination sites will open to children ages 12 to 15 beginning Thursday, with the option to book appointments now, the city has announced.

All city-operated vaccination sites offering the two-dose Pfizer vaccine will open to children ages 12 to 15 on Thursday, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement Tuesday, one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of Pfizer's vaccine in children in that age group.

The FDA's decision does not mean shots are available for kids yet, with the vaccine's expanded use on children still awaiting a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, CDPH said appointments can be booked now for city-run sites in anticipation that federal regulators will allow the vaccine for children by Thursday, noting that the CDC "is expected to grant full approval on Wednesday."

The Chicago sites that will offer the Pfizer vaccine to children, as well as their locations and hours, include:

  • A.A.C.C. @ Gallagher Way Wrigley Field, located at 1119 W. Waveland
    • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
  • Apostolic Faith Church, located at 3823 S. Indiana
    • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Chicago State University Walk-Up, located at 9501 South King Drive (Emil and Patricia A. Jones Convocation Center)
    • Noon-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
  • United Center Drive-Thru, located at 1724 W. Madison
    • 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day
  • Richard J. Daley College, located at 7500 S. Pulaski
    • Noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Wilbur Wright College, located at 4300 N. Narragansett
    • Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Loretto Hospital, located at 645 S. Central
    • Noon-6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Appointments can be booked for Chicago sites through or by calling the city's call center at 312.746.4835. Chicago officials said all vaccine sites will also accept walk-ins for ages 12 to 15 beginning Thursday. A parent or guardian must accompany any minor under age 18, the city said, and unvaccinated parents and guardians will be encouraged to receive a vaccine as well. 

Can Schools Require the COVID Vaccine? Pritzker, Chicago's Top Doctor Weigh In

The Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents age 12 to 15 Monday, paving the way for students to get vaccinated before school begins in the fall.

Across the country, a number of colleges and health care institutions have started to mandate the vaccine, but will schools do the same? And are they legally permitted to?

In a Facebook live question-and-answer session Thursday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady explained she read legal analysis on the topic, and said schools could likely mandate the vaccine, even while it's under emergency use authorization, as the country remains in a public health emergency.

"It’s going to be a big conversation," she said. "I think at schools, really across the country, having a fully-approved vaccine, including for kids, I think is one of the first steps in that conversation."

In Chicago, multiple other vaccines are required for Chicago Public Schools students, Arwady pointed out, however students can obtain a written exemption from a physician.

When asked about imposing a potential mandate at schools, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's listening to scientists to determine the best course to take.

"We'll see what percent of the population at schools this spring show up to get vaccinated," Pritzker said Thursday. "And over the summer, and you know, we'll have to make some decisions about that as well."

For a complete guide to COVID vaccine appointments in Illinois, click here

COVID Vaccine for 12-15: What to Know as FDA Authorizes Pfizer Shots for Kids

Now that the FDA has authorized emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15 Monday, what can parents expect?

When could kids 12 to 15 get the COVID vaccine? Is it safe for children? How effective is it for younger groups? Where will parents be able to sign their kids up for their shots? Do children experience the same side effects? Will the vaccine be required by schools in Illinois?

Here's a breakdown of the latest developments and what's next.

Illinois Set to Move into Bridge Phase Friday. Here's What That Means For You

Currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan, Illinois is preparing to enter the Bridge Phase at the end of this week, marking the start of a transitional period before the final Phase 5.

The Bridge Phase will begin Friday, allowing for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations during a transitional period between the current guidelines and a full reopening.

So what changes between Phase 4 and the Bridge Phase? Here's a breakdown by category.

COVID Vaccinations Coming to Workplaces in Chicago and Across Illinois

Teams to vaccinate people against COVID-19 will be dispatched to workplaces and commercial buildings in Chicago and across Illinois, officials announced Monday.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the program in a joint news conference with health officials and other community leaders.

The effort will begin in mid-May with 10 sites in Chicago, Schaumburg and Rockford in the first wave of the program. Those sites are:

  • Merchandise Mart, 222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago
  • Harris Bank Building, 115 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago
  • 540 W. Madison Street, Chicago
  • Equitable Building, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
  • 150 N. Riverside Plaza, Chicago
  • 311 South Wacker (Walgreens at 250 S Wacker Dr), Chicago
  • Wrigley Building, 400-410 North Michigan Avenue (Walgreens at 410 N Michigan Ave), Chicago
  • 308 W. State Street, Rockford
  • 1111 S. Alpine Road, Rockford
  • 1061 American Lane, Schaumburg

Read more here.

Family, Friends Remember Bolingbrook Teen Who Died Days After Testing Positive For COVID

Family and friends are remembering a Bolingbrook teen who died just two days after testing positive for coronavirus, holding a vigil and a balloon release Saturday evening in her honor.

Dykota Morgan, 15, was a freshman at Bolingbrook High School. Her family told NBC 5 she played several sports, was pretty healthy, and didn’t have any pre-existing conditions. They hope that by sharing her story people will take the virus seriously and get vaccinated.

Relying on each other for love and support, this week has been unimaginable for family and of Dykota.

“I’m so thankful that everyone was able to come out and just show their appreciate for the life that my daughter lived,” said Morgan’s father Rashad Bingham.

What Happens if You Miss Your Second COVID Vaccine Dose?

More and more Americans have been vaccinated in recent weeks, but the number of those who've skipped their second dose has risen as well.

More than 5 million people, around 8% of those who received one shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, didn't get their second dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But what if, for whatever reason, you missed your second shot?

According to the CDC, the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible, which is 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for Moderna's. However, the shot can be given up to 42 days after the first dose "when a delay is unavoidable," the agency added.

Read more here.

Fully Vaccinated? Here's Where to Score a Deal in the Chicago Area

Are you fully vaccinated against COVID-19? Don't miss the latest deals offered across the Chicago area, as various businesses have already begun serving up bargains for vaccinated individuals.

Here's where to find COVID vaccination deals nearby.

Hosting a Wedding, Graduation Party or Private Event in the Chicago Area? Here's What You Need to Know

Graduation and wedding seasons are fast approaching and this year's events will be unlike any other.

While most events were canceled or dramatically scaled down last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, more widely available vaccines and early signs of improvements in COVID metrics have enabled some jurisdictions to loosen restrictions on in-person gatherings.

To learn more on capacity limits and other new guidelines, click here.

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